Lance Berkman has been through marathon games before, and it’s never fun to come out on the losing side of them.
But with how things are going for the Texas Rangers lately, it only seemed fitting they would be on the losing end of a 4-3 game against the Toronto Blue Jays after 18 innings Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre.
Yes, that is correct — 18 innings on a day that started with a good pitching duel between Yu Darvish and Mark Buerhle.
“It’s tough when you play that long and can’t come up with a victory,” Berkman said. “They blew a lot of chances just like we did, and the advantage is always to the home team.”
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The 5-hour, 28-minute affair matched the franchise record for longest game in terms of innings, and came to an end when reliever Ross Wolf gave up a two-out, walk-off single to Rajai Davis.
Wolf had thrown six scoreless innings before starting the 18th. He gave up a one-out single to Emilio Bonifacio, popped up the next batter, but then made a mistake he believes cost the Rangers the game.
Wolf tried to pick Bonifacio off first, but his throw skipped past Berkman and Bonifacio advanced to third. Then Davis ripped a single down the third-base line.
“First one in my career I threw away, it doesn’t happen very often,” Wolf said. “I take the blame for that loss because that should’ve never happened. I threw it away.”
Despite his mistake, Wolf is the last person to blame for this loss. He kept the Rangers in it, and the offense simply couldn’t capitalize on countless opportunities.
By the end of it, the Rangers had gone 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position. But they seemed to be getting out of their funk in the ninth.
Trailing 3-1, the Rangers saw three consecutive pinch hitters reach base. Leonys Martin singled, David Murphy drew a walk and A.J. Pierzynski came through with an RBI single to shallow right.
Elvis Andrus then drove in the game-tying run with a sacrifice fly to center. Things were going in the right direction, or so it seemed.
The Rangers were in great position to take their first lead in the 10th. Berkman drew a leadoff walk, Adrian Beltre reached on an error, and Nelson Cruz was hit by a pitch.
With the bases loaded and no outs, though, the Rangers came away with nothing. Jeff Baker struck out, and Martin flew out to right. Berkman tagged on Martin’s ball, but was thrown out easily at the plate by Jays right fielder Jose Bautista.
“I was going to go as soon as I saw it in the air,” Berkman said. “I felt we had at least a decent chance to score.”
“He made a perfect throw,” manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t know if a pinch runner would’ve been any good unless he was Speedy Gonzales.”
The Rangers had other opportunities as the game dragged into the early evening.
In the 14th, Andrus drew a leadoff walk, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Profar. But Berkman and Beltre grounded out to end that threat.
Baker had a one-out double in the 15th followed by Martin reaching on a hit by a pitch, but Murphy and Pierzynski grounded out to end the inning.
The Rangers wasted another opportunity in the 18th. Murphy led off with a double, and Pierzynski was hit by a pitch. With Andrus looking to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Murphy was caught too far off second base and caught in a rundown for the first out.
“It’s something you anticipate and I over-anticipated it,” Murphy said. “You can’t take a chance there and that was my mistake.”
Andrus and Profar grounded out after that.
The Rangers are batting .129 with runners in scoring position over the past seven games.
“We’re just not getting it done. It’s that simple,” Washington said. “Pretty soon, we’ll break through.”