Not a single error was charged in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night, and the Texas Rangers’ fielding percentage held firm at fourth-best in the American League.
But the Rangers know better.
Three plays in the inning that usually result in outs weren’t made. Two were the by-product of bad instincts, and the third was just bad luck.
No matter the cause for the mistakes, giving a team three extra chances is never a good thing, and Milwaukee proved that yet again.
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The iffy glove work led to five first-inning runs against Justin Grimm, and the Rangers’ road losing streak reached four games after Milwaukee beat them 6-3.
“We really shouldn’t have been in that hole,” manager Ron Washington said. “You look back, and there were a few plays that could have been made.”
Yuniesky Betancourt made the Rangers pay for all three gaffes with a two-run homer to cap the big first as the Brewers snapped a five-game losing streak.
The defense let Grimm (2-2) down quickly as Nelson Cruz misjudged a Ryan Braun drive that turned into an RBI single. Not only did Cruz get a poor read, but he sensed that he was closer to the wall that he actually was.
“I saw it pretty well,” he said. “I read it wrong.”
Grimm then made a mistake, as he had Jean Segura picked off at second base but threw to shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Andrus wasn’t covering the base. Second baseman Ian Kinsler was.
“You throw the ball to the bag,” Washington said.
Grimm steadied himself by retiring the two hitters after Braun and appeared to be headed out of the inning down only 1-0 despite the two missed outs, but David Murphy lost a Carlos Gomez blooper two times before it fell for a hit rather than into his glove.
Betancourt followed with his team-leading eighth homer for the 5-0 edge.
“I saw the ball off the bat, and I lost it,” Murphy said. “I picked it up again, and lost it. It’s an unfortunate play. It happens a few times a year, but it hurts when there are guys on the bases and they end up scoring and the next guy hit a home run.”
Grimm did his job over the next four innings, holding the Brewers scoreless. They had chances in the third and fourth but couldn’t cash in, and Grimm caught a break when plate ump Laz Diaz called a foul ball against Gomez rather than a hit by pitch.
Instead of having runners at first and second to start the inning, Gomez struck out, Rickie Weeks was caught stealing and Betancourt struck out.
“I was just trying to stay in it and go as long as I could,” Grimm said. “That’s all you can do in those starts.”
But the Rangers’ offense couldn’t dig out of the first-inning hole. Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer with one out in the second, but that was the Rangers’ only hit in five innings against Wily Peralta.
They scored twice in the sixth as Jeff Baker singled to start the inning and went to third on Andrus’ one-out double. Adrian Beltre brought in Baker on a grounder to third that was booted by Aramis Ramirez, and Andrus scored on a sacrifice fly by Cruz.
Ramirez, though, hit a solo homer with two outs in the seventh, and the Brewers’ beleaguered bullpen posted three scoreless innings to end a game that the Rangers gave away with their gloves.
“It may have made a difference, but you never know what’s going to happen,” Washington said. “They were freak things, but we’ll battle through it.”