July 26, 2013

Rangers erase six-run deficit but can’t finish Indians in extras

Martin Perez had a dismal start, allowing seven runs, but the offense finally got going against Cleveland.

Three errors. Three wild pitches. Three innings pitched by Martin Perez. A 7-1 deficit at one point.

All signs pointed to a forgettable night for the Texas Rangers, but they somehow managed to stay in it and force extra innings.

But they couldn’t pull off what would have been their largest comeback to date. Instead, the Cleveland Indians prevailed in walk-off fashion for an 11-8 victory in 11 innings on Friday night at Progressive Field.

Ryan Raburn came through with the pivotal hit for the Indians, sending a 2-1 slider from Jason Frasor over the left-field fence for a three-run, game-winning homer.

“I went with the slider and it was a cookie right down the middle,” Frasor said. “Right down the middle. Put it on a tee for him.”

Frasor, the Rangers’ fifth pitcher on the night, had worked two perfect innings prior to going out for a third. He said he felt good, and manager Ron Washington wanted to milk another inning from Frasor before going to one of his three one-inning relievers left in the bullpen.

Frasor started the 11th by giving up a single to Asdrubal Cabrera and another single to Carlos Santana. Raburn stepped in and showed bunt the first two pitches. With a 1-1 count, he took the third pitch for a ball. Frasor then uncorked the slider that stayed in the middle of the zone, and Raburn sent it deep to left for his 11th homer of the season.

Frasor bemoaned the loss, which was the Rangers’ 10th in their last 13 games and sixth in eight games since the All-Star break. They also lost their seventh of eight extra-inning games this year.

But the Rangers had a few positives to take away from the game, such as battling back from a six-run deficit and scoring their most runs in three weeks.

“If we play with that effort, we’ll be fine,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “We fought the fight today, and that’s all you can really try and do.”

The Rangers had a chance to take their first lead of the night in their half of the 11th.

Leonys Martin led off with a perfectly placed bunt single against Indians right-hander Bryan Shaw. With two outs, he raced to third on a wild pitch, but that threat fizzled out when Nelson Cruz popped up to end the inning.

Still, the Rangers had at least shown some offensive life earlier in the night, rallying to tie the game.

The Indians led 7-1 going into the fifth, but the Rangers scored a run that inning on an RBI single by Ian Kinsler. They added two more in the sixth on a solo homer by Cruz and a double-play groundout to score Adrian Beltre to make it 7-4.

The Indians answered with a single run in their half of the sixth, but the Rangers wouldn’t go away.

They scored two more runs in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Kinsler and an RBI single by Engel Beltre, who was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. The Rangers then tied it at 8-8 with two more runs in the eighth.

Pinch-hitter David Murphy led off with a single, and two batters later, Elvis Andrus reached on a hit-by-pitch. Martin bunted both runners into scoring position, and Kinsler lined a two-run single to right off Indians right-hander Joe Smith. That, however, was as close as the Rangers would get.

“I liked the way we battled,” Washington said. “We could have very easily given up in that ballgame and we didn’t.”

The Rangers found themselves in a deep hole after Martin Perez’s worst start of the season. The rookie left-hander lasted only three-plus innings, allowing a season-high seven runs (six earned) on eight hits.

Perez gave up three runs over the first two innings but seemed to settle down with a 1-2-3 third. Things unraveled in the fourth, though, when the Indians’ first three batters reached to load the bases.

Drew Stubbs then singled to right on a ball that Cruz misplayed that allowed two runs to score and put runners on second and third. The next batter, Michael Bourn, lined a two-run single to center to give the Indians a 7-1 lead and to end Perez’s day.

Perez has a 9.00 ERA over his last three starts. He had a 0.95 ERA in his three starts prior to that.

“My mind went a little a bit too fast, and my mechanics were fast and the game was too fast for me,” Perez said. “You have to slow down and take away emotion and concentrate on what you have to do in the game. I have to learn from it and get ready for my next start.”

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