The best news for the Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon was that they didn’t lose any of their cushion in the American League West.
Second-place Oakland, on a difficult seven-game road trip, was beaten for the second time in three games at Baltimore and remained 21/2 games off the Rangers’ division lead.
But not much else went well for the Rangers, who saw their hired pitching gun surrender five runs for a second straight start and their best hitter come up empty in two key situations.
The result was a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox and two losses in the three weekend games at U.S. Cellular Field.
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Matt Garza surrendered homers to the light-hitting Jordan Danks and Josh Phegley, and two Rangers threats ended on double plays off the bat of Adrian Beltre. Texas finished the game 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Garza and Beltre quickly moved on to the three-game series at Seattle, which begins Monday, but each admitted that they didn’t do their part in the finale against the White Sox.
“We had many chances, especially me,” said Beltre, who entered 11 for his last 24 with runners in scoring position. “This one is on me. All I need is a fly all to score one and keep the rally going. I didn’t get the clutch hit today.”
Beltre shouldn’t beat himself up too much over the first missed chance. In the fifth with the Rangers trailing 3-2 and runners at the corners, he ripped a sinking liner down the third-base line, but Jeff Keppinger made a half-dive to snare it and double off Elvis Andrus at third.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you hit it,” Beltre said. “It’s where you place it. I hit the ball good, but the end result was a double play.”
The Rangers were down 4-2 and had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, but Beltre rolled the first pitch from Matt Lindstrom to Keppinger to start an around-the-horn double play.
“I just threw that at-bat away,” said Beltre, who wasn’t the only Ranger who failed to produce.
The Rangers collected 11 hits, including eight against John Danks, but their woes with runners in scoring position started in the third when Andrus and Ian Kinsler missed chances.
Adam Rosales missed a two-out chance after Jurickson Profar had doubled, and Kinsler missed a chance ahead of Beltre in the seventh but managed to reach as Alexei Ramirez booted a potential double-play grounder.
“We had the opportunities,” manager Ron Washington said. “We just didn’t take advantage of them.”
Jeff Baker supplied the Rangers’ only two runs on a homer to right field off John Danks in the fourth. His second homer of the series tied the game at 2-2 after Chicago had plated two runs in the third after center fielder Craig Gentry missed a fly ball.
“I just missed it,” Gentry said.
Jordan Danks, John’s brother and a mid-game injury substitution, quickly put Chicago back in the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer, and the White Sox scored single runs in the sixth and the seventh.
Phegley, who won the game Saturday, homered to start the seventh against Garza, who said that he felt as comfortable as he has since joining the Rangers but made bad pitches to Danks and Phegley.
“Everything felt good, but I left two pitches up and paid dearly for them,” Garza said. “Sometimes you catch all the breaks, and sometimes you don’t catch any. I had good stuff. I pitched my game and just ended up on the wrong side. Today, I wasn’t successful.”
The Rangers are 5-2 in Garza’s starts since the five-player trade with the Cubs on July 22, and he is 3-2. But his ERA in 482/3 innings is 4.44, and he has allowed at least four runs in five straight starts.
Sunday wasn’t his day, though, nor did the day belong to Beltre. But it didn’t belong to the A’s either, which was one of the few bright spots for the Rangers.
“We can’t worry about them,” Garza said. “We have to worry about us and what we’re doing as a club.”