An all-around bad day for the Texas Rangers ended, well, badly.
The day started with general manager Jon Daniels announcing that left-handers Martin Perez and Matt Harrison are facing major surgeries that would end their 2014 seasons, and possibly more beyond that.
A couple hours later, the Rangers blew a four-run lead and lost 5-4 to the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
The Astros, the American League’s worst team, took two of three from the Rangers. It marked Houston’s first series win against its intrastate rival since June 2008. Texas had won the previous 15 consecutive series.
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Texas also fell below .500 (20-21). This is the latest in the season that the Rangers have been below .500 since the end of the 2008 season when that year’s team went 79-83.
“We may not be going right, but we’ll right the ship,” manager Ron Washington said.
Asked about losing a series to the Astros, Washington said: “On any given night, anyone can get beat. We don’t play the Astros cheap. They can play baseball, too. They beat us. I’m man enough to step up and say it.”
With the game tied 4-4 in the ninth, the Astros delivered a walk-off win. Matt Dominguez drove in the game-winning run with a single off Rangers rookie Nick Martinez.
Martinez, who had pitched a scoreless eighth, came back out for the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man, rookie George Springer, but gave up a single to Dexter Fowler and walked Jason Castro.
That brought up Dominguez, who sent the seventh pitch of the at-bat off the right-center field wall for his first walk-off hit.
“Just left a ball up,” Martinez said. “Things happen and you have to learn from your mistakes and continue to work hard.”
It capped one of the worst news days ever for the Rangers. They had a chance to at least end it on a positive note early on.
Alex Rios gave them an early 1-0 lead with a solo home run to left in the second inning. They scored another single run in the third off Astros starter Scott Feldman, as Prince Fielder had an RBI single.
Fielder and Adrian Beltre had RBI hits in the fifth, too, to extend the lead to 4-0. But that lead disappeared as the game wore on.
Starter Nick Tepesch, making his season debut, pitched well. He carried a shutout into the sixth inning and exited after issuing a one-out walk to Fowler.
Lefty Aaron Poreda entered and had his worst outing of the season. He didn’t retire a single batter, allowing a walk and three singles.
Poreda hadn’t let an inherited runner score or given up an earned run in his first nine outings, but that changed on this night. Fowler scored on a single by Marc Krauss and Chris Carter followed with another RBI single.
Poreda was pulled with the bases loaded and one out, but Jason Frasor bailed him out. Frasor struck out pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar to end the threat.
Frasor, though, ran into his own troubles in the seventh. Jose Altuve led off with a single and then Springer drilled a two-run home run into the left-field seats to tie the game.
“Both hits ... tried to go away and the ball came right back down the middle,” Frasor said. “It was such an adrenaline rush stranding those runners [in the sixth] and you try to keep that adrenaline going. I just didn’t execute pitches that second inning.”
The Rangers turned to Neal Cotts after that and he promptly gave up consecutive singles. But he got out of his jam with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to keep the game tied.
The Rangers’ offense, however, fell flat against the worst bullpen in the majors. The Astros’ relievers went into the game with a combined 5.91 ERA, but four relievers combined for four shutout innings.
The Rangers’ best chance came in the seventh when Beltre had a one-out double and Fielder drew an intentional walk. But Rios popped up in foul territory and pinch-hitter Michael Choice struck out.
The tie didn’t last too long and, in some ways, it was a fitting end to the Rangers’ day.