The Texas Rangers didn’t have many things go their way in the first 81 games.
They lost significant players to injuries. They were forced to use players at unfamiliar positions. And they suffered more losses than wins, leading them to shift their focus to development this season.
Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins seemed somewhat fitting to the season’s storyline, as the Rangers fell to 37-44 at the midway point.
Colby Lewis had perhaps his best start of the season, but gave up one of his two runs on a checked-swing double down the left-field line. Joakim Soria felt he pitched well, too, but the Twins found a few holes to produce the game-deciding run in the ninth.
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“That’s part of baseball,” said Soria, who was charged with the loss. “Today the ball found the holes, found the lines. Sometimes you have a tough one.”
Soria entered a 2-2 game in the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Josh Willingham, for whom Sam Fuld pinch-ran. Then Kendrys Morales lined an opposite field double down the left-field line that ricocheted off the wall, into foul territory and back into shallow left field.
That allowed Fuld to score without a throw home, but manager Ron Washington and left fielder Michael Choice both felt Fuld would have scored even without the Twins getting a favorable bounce.
Soria allowed a season-high four runs, three earned, in his previous outing Friday, marking the first time he’s allowed earned runs in consecutive outings since 2011.
“You move on and hopefully we get it done next game,” Soria said.
Lewis had similar misfortune when he gave up his two runs in the third inning. Twins No. 9 batter Jorge Polanco doubled down the left-field line on an attempted check-swing to score a run, and then Joe Mauer got just enough on an RBI single up the middle.
Those were the only runs Lewis allowed over six innings as he turned in his first quality start of the season.
“I felt real good,” Lewis said. “The ultimate goal is to win the game and we didn’t win. But a quality start, and I felt I really commanded the fastball.”
Lewis and Soria were each pleased with their outings and simply had a few breaks go against them. A struggling offense wasn’t able to bail them out.
The Rangers had their chances after Robinson Chirinos tied it at 2-2 with a solo homer in the fifth off Twins starter Kyle Gibson.
Elvis Andrus led off the sixth with a single, but Carlos Pena bounced into a double play.
Alex Rios started the seventh inning by singling and moved to third on a one-out single by Chirinos. But Choice grounded into an inning-ending double play to end that threat.
Washington said his young hitters such as Choice are still learning how critical delivering in those scoring situations are in the game.
“Each time right there you want to try to keep the ball in the big part of the field, you want to try to get you something up in the zone, but sometimes that heart goes to racing and you try to get things done too fast,” Washington said. “They’ll learn from that, all those things I just said, we explain to them.”
Gibson retired the side in the eighth, and Twins closer Glen Perkins struck out the side in the ninth to finish it off.
“It’s been a tough [first half of the season], but we’ve got to embrace that challenge and keep playing hard and have a better second half,” Andrus said. “We’ve been through a lot of bad things, but we haven’t finished yet.”