Texas Rangers

Rangers’ defense lost in the sun with sweep on the line

The Texas Rangers’ defense, which had been outstanding the first two games against the Kansas City Royals, abandoned them Sunday afternoon.

The Royals prevented a sweep, scoring the game-winning run in the ninth inning on a fly ball to right field that Shin-Soo Choo couldn’t locate in the sun. Lorenzo Cain’s fly ball, which would have been the third out and sent the game into extra innings, deflected off Choo’s glove, allowing Alex Gordon to score easily for a 4-3 win.

“That’s baseball,” said reliever Jason Grilli, who loaded the bases with a single, a walk and a hit batter but had two outs after getting Jorge Bonifacio swinging on a 3-2 fastball. “As a reliever, you live and die by the sword. I felt like I had good stuff.

“We played a good series. It would have been nice to sweep, but we’re off to a good start for the second half.”

Another solid outing by Yu Darvish went by the wayside. Darvish didn’t figure in the decision after allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk over 6  2/3 innings.

Darvish put himself in a hole in the first inning. A pair of singles set up a wild pitch that allowed Whit Merrifield to score and give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Darvish also made his first-career error in the inning on a pick-off throw to second base, but he was able to strand the runner at third.

After Drew Robinson tied it in the third with a solo homer, Darvish’s two-out walk to Eric Hosmer set up Mike Moustakas’ run-scoring double that reclaimed a 2-1 lead for Kansas City.

Darvish retired 11 of the next 12 batters until Drew Butera singled with two outs in the seventh. Merrifield’s double down the left-field line was not cleanly fielded by Nomar Mazara, allowing Butera to score easily. Mazara was charged with an error.

“We come up cleanly with it, they may not send the runner there,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “I felt like [Darvish] threw the ball extremely well.”

The Rangers have scored three runs combined with Darvish on the mound over his past five starts (31  1/3 innings). In eight of his last nine starts, the offense has supported him with two or fewer runs.

Mazara made up for the error in the eighth with a game-tying single that scored Elvis Andrus, who had doubled with two outs. For the third consecutive game, Alex Claudio threw a perfect inning against the heart of the Royals’ lineup, setting down Hosmer, Moustakas and Brandon Moss on eight pitches in the eighth.

The Rangers were retired in order in the top of the ninth to set up the events in the bottom of the inning. Royals starter Ian Kennedy held the Rangers to two runs on five hits over 6  2/3 innings.

The Royals’ Cain fought through the sun in center field throughout the day, each catch seemingly more dramatic than the last. He would camp under a fly ball and then fight the flight of the ball all the way to his glove.

Choo’s fly ball in the ninth was a little different. It was slicing away from him toward the right-field line.

“When I hit it, I was thinking out,” Cain said. “But luckily the sun had shifted over just enough to block his view. I appreciate the sun in that situation. It was tough. Once the ball gets in the sun, it’s almost impossible to catch.”

Choo saw the ball initially and was tracking it correctly toward the line. But as it got closer he lost it.

“So I’m guessing the ball is there. It’s a difficult play,” Choo said. “Straight pop ups you have a better chance. When the ball is moving it’s more difficult to catch.”

Grilli, the 40-year-old veteran, pointed no fingers, despite making a good pitch to Cain that normally would have ended the inning.

“Sometimes when you don’t [make your pitch] you have a phenomenal play behind you. That’s how baseball goes,” he said.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

Texas

001

000

110

3

7

2

Kansas City

101

000

101

4

10

0

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Choo rf

3

0

1

0

0

1

.247

Andrus ss

4

1

1

0

0

0

.295

Mazara lf

3

0

1

1

1

1

.256

Beltre dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

.275

Odor 2b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.213

Napoli 1b

4

1

2

1

0

1

.203

Lucroy c

4

0

1

0

0

1

.257

Gomez cf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.251

Robinson 3b

3

1

1

1

0

1

.235

Totals 32

3

7

3

1

8

Kansas City AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

4

1

2

0

0

0

.287

Bonifacio rf

4

0

1

0

1

1

.254

Cain cf

5

0

1

1

0

2

.271

Hosmer 1b

3

1

0

0

1

1

.311

Moustakas 3b

4

0

1

1

0

0

.270

Moss dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

.191

Escobar ss

4

0

3

0

0

0

.231

Gordon lf

3

1

1

0

1

2

.192

Butera c

3

1

1

0

0

1

.227

Perez ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.281

Totals 35

4

10

2

3

8

E—Darvish (1), Mazara (4). LOB—Texas 4, Kansas City 9. 2B—Andrus (22), Merrifield (19), Moustakas (16). HR—Robinson (3), off Kennedy; Napoli (20), off Kennedy. RBIs—Mazara (57), Napoli (42), Robinson (4), Cain (31), Moustakas (55). SB—Merrifield (15), Bonifacio (1). DP—Kansas City 2.

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Darvish

6 2/3

8

3

2

1

6

98

3.45

Bush

 1/3

0

0

0

1

1

15

3.41

Claudio

1

0

0

0

0

0

8

2.59

Grilli, L, 2-5

 2/3

2

1

1

1

1

20

6.56

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Kennedy

6 2/3

5

2

2

1

6

99

4.32

Moylan

 1/3

0

0

0

0

0

2

5.23

Soria, BS, 6-7

1

2

1

1

0

1

24

3.55

Herrera, W, 2-2

1

0

0

0

0

1

13

4.29

Inherited runners-scored—Bush 1-0, Moylan 1-0. HBP—Kennedy (Choo), Grilli (Merrifield). WP—Darvish. T—3:11. A—23,163 (37,903).

Rangers at Orioles

6:05 p.m. Monday, FSSW

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