For as up and down as the Texas Rangers’ young starting pitchers have been since Operation Development began in June, their offense has actually been very consistent.
When the pitching goes south, the lineup doesn’t score enough. When the pitching keeps things close, the lineup doesn’t score enough.
The latter was the case Tuesday at Marlins Park, where the Rangers were gift-wrapped two runs and had a chance at a third freebie but watched it slip away in what eventually became a 4-3 loss to Miami in 10 innings.
Giancarlo Stanton delivered the game-winner, an unearned run thanks to an error by first baseman Mike Carp, on a two-out opposite-field single off Neftali Feliz.
The Rangers felt like the game should have never gotten that far, but the offense again couldn’t deliver.
“I thought we had one,” manager Ron Washington said.
Miles Mikolas pitched effectively for most of his five-plus innings, and the bullpen remained the club’s bright spot even though Neal Cotts (2-7) was charged with the loss.
But the offense could only score on a fielder’s choice, a two-base error on a double and a bases-loaded walk. When the Rangers tried to plate the go-ahead runner, who was at third thanks to another error, they failed miserably.
The Rangers went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and that hit failed to score a run. When they had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth, their lone run came on a Robinson Chirinos fielder’s choice.
“That’s where we definitely have to get better, driving in runs when they’re out there,” Washington said.
Mikolas allowed only one run through five — a Marcell Ozuna homer in the fourth — but it took him 90 pitches to record those 15 outs, and he couldn’t provide a shutdown inning after the Chirinos RBI for a 1-0 lead.
But an inability to quickly finish innings is what caught up to Mikolas. A mounting pitch count caused him to run out of gas quickly as Miami scored twice in the sixth inning.
Above all else, though, Mikolas met Washington’s No. 1 pitching criteria of giving his team a chance to win.
“I’m slightly satisfied, I guess,” said Mikolas, who struck out six. “Just keeping us within reach is a little bit of a step forward.”
He made a big pitch to Stanton in the third, throwing a 3-2 slider for an inning-ending strikeout that stranded runners at first and second.
He got Stanton on a pop-up and Casey McGehee on a grounder in the first after Donovan Solano reached second on a throwing error.
But from the third to the fifth inning, all six Marlins batters who reached did so with two outs. That accounted for 25 extra pitches.
“Trying to get that third out cost him some pitches,” Washington said.
Miami opened the sixth with a double and two singles off Mikolas for one run, and got another with a sacrifice fly off of Roman Mendez.
Fortunately for the Rangers, the Marlins were feeling charitable with their 3-1 lead and quickly gave away the two tying runs.
Rougned Odor started the seventh with a drive off the right-field wall that Stanton misplayed, and he then belly-flopped to the ground as Odor circled the bases for a quick run.
The Rangers eventually loaded the bases with two outs, with two of the three runners reaching on walks, and pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson drew a bases-loaded free pass to force in the tying run.
Robertson was in the middle of the Rangers’ missed chance at the go-ahead run in the ninth. He didn’t offer at a wide slider on a squeeze play, and Elvis Andrus, at third thanks to an error, was thrown out between third and home.
“He’s got to get the bat on the ball,” Washington said. “That ball didn’t hit the ground. He can’t pull his bat back.”
Robertson did, though, as the Rangers’ offense continued to be consistent. Consistently short on runs.