The solo home runs that Mike Napoli and David Ortiz hit off Yovani Gallardo are what beat the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night, according to both Gallardo and manager Jeff Banister.
Each, though, was a little curious about the fifth-inning safe call at second base that an umpire watching on TV a couple hundred miles away didn’t overturn.
If Hanley Ramirez is called out at second, as the Rangers believe he should have been, the slow Napoli roller that Elvis Andrus, who had immediately signaled for a challenge, couldn’t field cleanly doesn’t lead to another Boston run.
Leonys Martin’s pinch-hit homer to start the ninth, in theory, ties the game instead of bringing the Rangers oh so close in an eventual 4-3 loss to open a three-game series at Fenway Park.
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The Rangers weren’t using the call that stood — not a call that was confirmed — after an umpire’s review as an excuse. However, there’s no denying that it was a critical play.
“I’ve got to go back and look at the replay at second base and see where we’re at on that one,” Banister said. “That play wound up costly for us tonight.”
The Red Sox had just taken a 3-0 lead on Ortiz’s home run, and Ramirez sent a ball into the gap in right-center field. Shin-Soo Choo fielded the ball, turned, and threw to Andrus at second base.
Ramirez made an awkward slide to avoid the tag, and second-base umpire Mark Wegner gave the safe signal. Andrus pointed to the dugout, and Banister asked for the challenge.
The Rangers thought that the replay from behind home plate showed Andrus tagging Ramirez’s calf before his foot hit the bag. After a review of 2 minutes, 59 seconds, the call stood.
“The call didn’t go our way, and that’s pretty much the end of that,” Gallardo said.
After Pablo Sandoval bounced to second, moving Ramirez to third, Napoli hit a chopper toward Andrus at shortstop. He was playing deep and had a lengthy run to the ball, which squirted out of his glove as he reached into it to throw to first.
“That’s a tough play,” Banister said. “It’s a body-control play that we didn’t come up with.”
That was the fourth and final run against Gallardo, who logged 32 pitches in the first inning but escaped allowing only one run. Napoli got him to start the fourth, sending a hanging slider over the Green Monster in left field.
Gallardo (3-6) lamented his lack of command far more than the call at second base.
“My command was a little off today,” he said. “I hung some pitches that they took advantage of.”
The Rangers’ offense struggled to get going against left-hander Wade Miley, who held Choo and Andrus hitless in eight at-bats leading off four different innings.
Miley (3-4) had scattered four hits before the Rangers finally solved him in the sixth, albeit with two outs. Tommy Field singled to drive in Kyle Blanks, who had doubled with one out, and Robinson Chirinos followed with the first triple of his career to make it 4-2.
The Rangers were still down two, thanks to three scoreless innings by the bullpen, when Martin started the ninth with a homer off Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. Choo reached on an infield single with two outs and became the eighth Rangers runner stranded when Andrus flied out to right field to end it.
But the Rangers’ curiosity about their failed fifth-inning challenge at second base was far from ending.
“We felt like it was a play that should have been overturned, but it doesn’t matter, really,” Banister said. “At the end of the day, the call stood. We didn’t get the out. Could we have done anything better? I don’t know yet. … What I do know is we live with the call that is made and we move on.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760