Texas Rangers

Bullpen goes splat as Indians thwart Rangers' comeback bid

Chris Martin was dealing with a cramp in his right forearm in the eighth inning, when he was charged for four earned runs as the Indians rallied past the Rangers.
Chris Martin was dealing with a cramp in his right forearm in the eighth inning, when he was charged for four earned runs as the Indians rallied past the Rangers. The Associated Press

Playing with no margin for error and with the need for the breaks to go their way, the Texas Rangers actually saw that happening Monday night in their half of the eighth inning.

Two players who historically haven't hit left-handed pitchers hit one pretty hard, hard enough to give the Rangers a late-inning lead.

But the Cleveland Indians got to bat in the eighth, too, and in so doing reminded all of those famed song lyrics.

Sometimes you're the windshield. Sometimes you're the Texas Rangers' bullpen.

Texas Rangers left-hander Martin Perez was frustrated by the umpire's strike zone in Sunday's loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. "I throw a good pitch, he doesn't call it."

The Indians struck for four runs in their half of the eighth off right-hander Chris Martin, who had to exit because of an injury, and held off the Rangers in the ninth for a 7-5 victory at Progressive Field.

Talk about Dire Straits.

"It was tough in the eighth, especially with Martin to have Martin walk off the mound," manager Jeff Banister said. "It was a situation where we felt like we got the one-run lead, we got the guy in there we wanted. It just got away from us."

The postgame news on Martin, the Arlington native, wasn't dire. He said that he was dealing with a cramp in his forearm and doesn't believe the injury is serious. No MRI exam has been scheduled, and he will be evaluated again Tuesday.

The Rangers turned to Martin, who has become a key cog late in games, to protect a 4-3 lead after back-to-back RBI doubles by Jurickson Profar and Nomar Mazara off lefty Tyler Olson.

Martin allowed hits to three of the first four Indians to tie the game and quickly motioned to the mound after allowing a tie-breaking two-out RBI double to Jose Ramirez two batters later.

Martin immediately left with head athletic trainer Kevin Harmon, and Yonder Alonso singled in two more runs off Jesse Chavez.

"I'll be fine," Martin said. "Explaining it to the training staff was kind of hard. All I could explain was a cramp. It wasn't like a full cramp, but progressively it was getting tighter and tighter. ... I was just trying to get through the inning. Obviously, you saw what happened."

Rangers manager Jeff Banister after 7-2 loss Sunday in Toronto

The Indians spoiled what would have been a nice comeback win for the Rangers, who had overcome deficits of 2-1 and 3-2. Robinson Chirinos' third homer of the road trip tied the game in the sixth, and Profar and Mazara teamed up in the eighth for a 4-3 lead.

The Rangers sent the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth, but Joey Gallo took a called third strike to end it.

"There were a lot of positives inside that game," Banister said. "It was some solid at-bats. We made their closer work. We felt if we kept it in range we'd have a chance in the ninth, and we did."

But there were a few things that bit the Rangers before the eighth.

The Indians' first run against Cole Hamels, in the fourth, was unearned and came without the benefit of a base hit. Ramirez reached on a wild pitch after striking out to open the inning, and he scampered home as second baseman Drew Robinson dropped the ball trying to complete a double play.

Hamels allowed two runs (one earned) in five-plus innings, but he said that his inability to go deeper in the game had an adverse effect on the outcome by putting the bullpen in a difficult situation.

He was locked in a pitcher's duel with Trevor Bauer, who struck out 11 in 6 2/3 innings, and afterward said it best.

"There's no room for error, on both sides," Hamels said. "That's something where you battle and grind away each at-bat. But at the same time, I have to go deeper in games. I definitely fault myself for that."

He exited in the sixth with two on and no outs, but was bailed out by fine work by Jose Leclerc. Alex Claudio, though, surrendered hits to the only three batters he faced in the seventh as the Rangers slipped behind 3-2.

Then came Martin's rough outing in the eighth out of a bullpen that had posted a 2.25 ERA in the previous five games but has struggled at Globe Life Park to the tune of a 5.77 ERA.

Sometimes you're the windshield. Sometimes you're the Rangers' bullpen.

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