With Yu Darvish starting Sunday, there had been some hope the Texas Rangers could salvage the last game of what had already been a disappointing road trip.
It didn’t happen for them, though, with Darvish struggling for a second consecutive start and the offense being shut down again in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Rangers are in the midst of a season-long five-game losing streak going into Monday’s off day and five games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 24, 2008.
The Rangers finished the nine-game road trip against the three teams ahead of them in the American League West by going 3-6.
“It’s not like we’re getting the heck beat out of us,” manager Ron Washington said. “I thought we were in most of the games, just didn’t pull them off.”
The Rangers found themselves in an early hole Sunday after a controversial ruling went against them.
Darvish walked leadoff man Kole Calhoun to start the first and he went first-to-third on a single up the middle by Albert Pujols. Leonys Martin overthrew to the cutoff man on the play and Calhoun bolted for home.
Darvish retrieved the ball down the third-base line, threw it to catcher Chris Gimenez and Calhoun was ruled out by home-plate umpire Bill Miller.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia disputed the call, and the play went to instant replay under an umpire’s review.
A New York-based crew determined that Gimenez blocked the plate and didn’t give Calhoun a path before receiving the ball, which is required under Rule 7.13 that was implemented before the season.
MLB released a statement on the ruling, which read: “The catcher was not in the act of receiving the throw, nor did he have possession of the ball. As a result, the runner did not have a lane to the plate.”
Gimenez was charged with an error on the play and Washington was immediately ejected once he came out to argue the overturned call.
“You can’t stop instincts of the game from happening and that was an instinctive play,” Washington said. “There were no intentions of blocking the plate. There was a play made and the catcher went to the ball and he was out. … What’s the catcher supposed to do?”
Said Gimenez: “I honestly really don’t know what I’m supposed to do on that. That’s such a reaction play, I wasn’t intentionally trying to block the plate.”
Scioscia, a longtime catcher known for his plate-blocking skills during his playing days, acknowledged that it’s a rule that will get scrutinized. However, he said the play was a clear violation of the new rule and added: “Eventually we’ll settle on some kind of adjustments and clarity.”
Things only got worse from there for the Rangers.
First baseman Donnie Murphy exited the game in the fourth inning with soreness in his left knee and will be evaluated when the team returns to Texas. Murphy had surgery in October to repair his left meniscus and is hopeful it is nothing too severe.
The Angels then pulled away in their half of the fourth by scoring four runs off Darvish. C.J. Cron got it started with a solo homer with one out, David Freese had an RBI double, and Calhoun sent a two-run shot off the right-field foul pole.
It’s the second time this season that the Angels have had two homers in an inning against Darvish. Erick Aybar and Pujols each went deep in the first inning May 4.
Darvish has lost consecutive starts for the first time since last September, and has allowed at least four earned runs in consecutive starts for the first time since his rookie season.
“My mechanics have been off and I haven’t been able to make an adjustment in these last two starts,” Darvish said. “Overall, my command was off.”