Joe Saunders summed up his night in three words before even being asked.
“Not my best,” he said as reporters gathered around his locker after the game.
He could have spoken for the entire team, as the Texas Rangers fell 7-3 to the Los Angeles Angels. He certainly wasn’t alone in the “not my best” category.
First baseman Brad Snyder made a critical throwing error. The offense didn’t get much going, leaving nine on base. All of it led to the Rangers’ third straight loss and fourth in their past five games.
“If we play the game we’re capable of playing, we can beat anybody,” manager Ron Washington said. “So far the mistakes that we’ve made has come back to bite us. Tonight, a base hit here and a base hit there, it could’ve been a different ballgame.”
The Rangers took the first lead of the night on a two-out RBI single by Elvis Andrus in the third inning. But that 1-0 lead was short-lived.
The Angels tied it at 1-1 in their half with a solo shot by C.J. Cron. Then they capitalized in the fourth on a mistake by Snyder, who only started getting reps at first base earlier this month.
With runners at second and third with one out, Erick Aybar sent a chopper towards Snyder. Josh Hamilton charged from third base to home and Snyder had more than enough time to throw him out at the plate. But his throw sailed wide right of catcher Robinson Chirinos, allowing Hamilton to score and Howie Kendrick to score from second.
“Kind of rushed it a little bit,” Snyder said. “It got to the point where I gripped it too much, tried to make a strong throw and held on for it a hair too long.”
Said Washington: “He’s not used to throwing the ball that short. Those are wrist throws. He’s an outfielder, he throws with his arm.”
If that play is made, Saunders’ outing might have turned out differently. Instead, the Angels added another run in the fourth on an RBI single by David Freese to take a 4-1 lead.
They put the game out of reach with three more runs in the fifth. Saunders walked the first two batters and then Hamilton, Aybar and Freese came through with RBI singles to make it 7-1. Hamilton’s single came after a borderline 2-2 pitch was called a ball by umpire Chad Fairchild.
Another play that could have altered the outcome.
“It was a borderline pitch, it could have gone either way,” Saunders said. “Sometimes you get the call, sometimes you don’t. No hair off my chest.”
It led to the shortest outing by Saunders since his Rangers debut when he lasted only 3 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay. He was knocked out of that start after taking a liner off his left ankle.
Saunders was charged with all seven runs Friday with four being earned. He allowed 10 hits with three walks and three strikeouts, his fourth consecutive start allowing at least seven hits.
“It was kind of a battle from pitch one,” Saunders said. “I felt I was just a tick off. Tonight was one of those things where you had to go out there and make pitches the best you could.
“Just a tough start. I looked at the video and know what I need to work on, improve on, so that’s a definite positive.”
The Rangers tried to make it interesting later in the game.
Michael Choice had a solo home ruun in the seventh, and Alex Rios scored on a groundout by Chirinos in the eighth. They had more opportunities in the eighth, too, with runners at the corners and one out, but pinch-hitter Rougned Odor bounced into an inning-ending double play.