Another night, another Texas Rangers game with little offensive support for their starting pitcher.
This time it was Yu Darvish who didn’t get the run support, a recurring theme when the team’s ace has taken the mound.
He keeps putting the Rangers in position to win, but they keep finding ways to not win.
They reached pretty deep into the bag of unlikely scenarios Thursday night.
A throwing error by third baseman Adrian Beltre to start the eighth inning led to two unearned runs, and Esmil Rogers and two relievers scattered six hits as Toronto opened a four-game series with a 3-1 victory over the Rangers.
The loss was the third straight for the Rangers, who have fallen two games behind Oakland in the American League West. The Rangers have scored five runs during their current skid and only 36 in 12 games this month.
“We haven’t really played the game like we’re supposed to,” Beltre said. “A lot of mental mistakes. A lot of running mistakes. It’s just the whole thing, but mainly offensively we haven’t found the groove we want lately. We haven’t scored enough runs for the pitching staff lately.”
The game was played in a crisp 2 hours, 36 minutes in large part because neither team did much at the plate. The winning sequence didn’t seem to take long to unfold.
Neal Cotts took over for Darvish to start the eighth in a 1-1 game and got Emilio Bonifacio to hit a chopper down the third-base line to Beltre, the owner of the past two Gold Gloves at third as well as the past two Platinum Gloves as the league’s top defender.
He snared the grounder, but his throw was wide and pulled first baseman Chris McGuiness off the bag. Cotts (2-1) got the next two hitters before giving way to Tanner Scheppers for Jose Bautista.
Bautista, though, drew a walk after eight pitches despite being down 1-2 in the count. Edwin Encarnacion hit the next pitch just past a diving Leonys Martin, who suffered a sprained left wrist on the play, in left-center field to score both runs.
“Adrian is human, too,” manager Ron Washington said. “Everybody makes mistakes. Even though he made that mistake, we still had a chance to get out of the inning. We just didn’t get it done.”
Nelson Cruz homered in the second inning to provide the Rangers with their lone run and only extra-base hit. Blue Jays pitchers also issued only one walk — to David Murphy as the second batter of the game.
Rogers (2-2) allowed five hits in seven innings, an outing that rates as the best of his career. Darvish turned in yet another quality start, his 10th of the season, but remained winless since May 16.
Darvish allowed only three hits in his seven innings, striking out nine and walking two. But he used 110 pitches, throwing only 59 strikes, on the hottest night of the season (97 degrees) at Rangers Ballpark.
He immediately surrendered the 1-0 lead that Cruz’s 16th homer had provided as the first three Blue Jays reached in the third. The Rangers were playing for a bunt when Melky Cabrera hit a single through the infield to score Bonifacio, who led off with a single.
“Other than that, [Darvish] did his job,” Washington said.
Darvish retired the final 10 batters he faced after giving up a two-out double to Maicer Izturis in the fourth.
“My goal is to contribute as much as possible and make the game as close as possible,” said Darvish, who has received only six runs of support in his past five starts. “I’m not amazed. This is baseball. Anything can happen.”
But even Rangers hitters seem surprised by their lack of production.
“There’s no excuses,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “You’ve still got to go out and perform well. We have to go out and take pride in the way we’re playing. Like I’m kind of disappointed right now, but sometimes stuff doesn’t go your way.”