Texas Rangers

Missed opportunities sink Rangers

Albert Pujols scores one of the two runs on C.J. Cron’s single off Roman Mendez in the sixth inning.
Albert Pujols scores one of the two runs on C.J. Cron’s single off Roman Mendez in the sixth inning. AP

Needing a hit, a Texas Rangers batter couldn’t get one.

Needing a pitch, a Rangers pitcher couldn’t make a better one.

Needing a play, a Rangers outfielder couldn’t quite make one.

Needing a win, the Rangers didn’t get one Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

All their shortcomings came together in the sixth inning and helped send the Rangers their third consecutive loss, 4-1 to the Los Angeles Angels.

Afterward, manager Jeff Banister pointed to the missed chances at the plate, a continuing storyline for the offense with the worst batting average in the major leagues.

“We’ve got to capitalize on run-scoring opportunities,” Banister said after the Rangers left 10 on base. “We’ve got to do a better job in the box and drive runs in. We got those opportunities tonight. If we drive those runs in, it separates us. It gives us some room to work.”

Tanner Scheppers had more control issues in the seventh, when the Angels added to a 3-1 lead, but the Angels’ three-run sixth featured two pitches by Roman Mendez that could have been located better, a missed foul ball by Shin-Soo Choo, and another just-missed-it moment for center fielder Leonys Martin.

The breakdown came moments after the offense failed to capitalize with the bases loaded and one out. Missed chances continue to doom the Rangers, who have lost five of the past six games and are hitting .211 after 17 games.

“I want them to continue to grind it out,” Banister said. “Two weeks from now we’ll be talking about a different story.”

The Angels loaded the bases to start the sixth against Colby Lewis (1-2), who gave way to Mendez. He jumped ahead of Albert Pujols 0-2, but threw a slider that wasn’t wide enough and Pujols lined it to center.

Martin threw out a runner trying to score for the first out. Mendez overcame Choo’s miss of a David Freese pop-up near the right-field seats, though he needed a few extra pitches to do so.

C.J. Cron followed by lining a 1-2 fastball that caught too much plate. Martin charged, leaned and saw the ball bounce off his glove for two more runs.

It was a difficult play on a ball that was well-hit, and Martin said that it knuckled on him late. Martin has found himself on the near-miss end of five plays already this season when a catch saves runs but a miss hurts.

“I’ve got to work on those plays,” Martin said. “I was thinking, ‘Make a catch. Make a play.’ But the ball moved like a knuckleball. I did my best.”

The Rangers led 1-0 entering the sixth, and loaded with one out in the sixth. Adam Rosales, though, popped out, and Robinson Chirinos got ahead 3-0 in the count before grounding out on a 3-2 pitch.

The Rangers had runners at first and third with two outs in the fourth and scored their only run on a wild pitch by C.J. Wilson that allowed Adrian Beltre to score. Elvis Andrus moved to third on the play, but was left there when Rosales looked at strike three.

“We’re going out trying to play hard and give ourselves and opportunity to score runs,” first baseman Mitch Moreland said. “It’s just one of those dry spells when we just can’t put a run across.”

Scheppers got two outs in the seventh but ran into trouble when he plunked Mike Trout to load the bases. He then walked Pujols on four pitches to force in a run.

But the bulk of the damage had been done an inning earlier as the Rangers had opportunities to change the game but missed out.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST