The clutch hit never came, at least not for the Texas Rangers.
Chicago White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham sent Alex Claudio’s first pitch in the 11th inning into the left field stands to beat the Rangers with a walk-off 3-2 win Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Rangers had plenty of opportunities to push more runs across, but White Sox pitchers consistently worked out of jams. Twice Texas runners were put out at home, including in the 11th when Hanser Alberto grounded into a bases-loaded, 5-2-3 inning-ending double play.
In the fifth, the Rangers had runners on second and third with one out when Alberto was out at home on Ryan Rua’s sharp grounder to shortstop. After Prince Fielder was walked to load the bases, Mitch Moreland’s soft pop over third was caught by a diving Conor Gillaspie near the line in shallow left field.
“I thought I might’ve sneaked one in, still not what I wanted to do there,” said Moreland who left seven of the team’s 10 runners left on base. “He made a nice play on it.”
Perhaps the most vexing waste of a base runner was in the 10th when pinch hitter Rougned Odor reached on a one-out single and moved to third on a two-base wild pitch.
Fielder was intentionally walked for the second time (ninth this season, tied for third most in the majors), setting up Moreland again. Moreland turned on a split-fingered fastball from Chicago’s Zach Putnam right to second baseman Carlos Sanchez, who started a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
“We had a lot of opportunities and didn’t quite cash them in, myself included,” said Moreland, who along with Alberto, was 0 for 5. “I had a few opportunities and wasn’t able to pick us up. Our pitching staff did a great job; it was just a hard-fought game by both sides and we came up on the short end of it. They came up with the big hit and we didn’t.”
Since May 17, it’s only the Rangers’ second series loss and third time to lose consecutive games.
Starter Yovani Gallardo held Chicago scoreless through five innings but gave way to the bullpen to start the sixth after throwing 98 pitches.
“I’ve got to give them credit. They made me battle,” said Gallardo, who has a 1.22 ERA (37 innings) in his past six starts. “They fouled off some good pitches that didn’t allow me to get some early outs. I fell behind quite a bit. That obviously didn’t help. I just couldn’t get that early contact like I did in previous starts.”
He threw 28 pitches in the fourth inning when the White Sox had two of their five hits off him. That’s after it took 23 pitches to work around a lead-off double in the third. It included an 11-pitch at-bat by Tyler Flowers, who eventually grounded out.
“The command wasn’t there,” said Gallardo, who had three strikeouts and a walk and left with 1-0 lead thanks to Ryan Rua’s first-inning homer. “I made pitches whenever I had to, but I feel confident with the bullpen we have.”
Ross Detwiler started the sixth and quickly was in a mess after three singles, including Alexei Ramirez’s one-out, game-tying single to shallow right that scored Jose Abreu to make it 1-1. Gillaspie’s sacrifice fly to left scored Melky Cabrera to give Chicago a 2-1 lead. Jon Edwards replaced Detwiler and got a strikeout to end the inning.
Leonys Martin homered to start the seventh and give Texas new life. But the big hit never came, at least not for the Rangers.
“We’ve got to find a way to right this offense a little bit,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “It’s been slowed down, that’s due partly to the pitchers we’ve been facing. It’s still a good offense.”
The Rangers have played four consecutive one-run games and five of six. Texas went 2-3 on its road trip in which it faced some of the top starting pitchers in the league, including the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and the White Sox’s Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon.
The Rangers start a three-game series against Oakland beginning Tuesday at Globe Life Park before another seven-game trip to Toronto and Baltimore.
“We’re one or two runs from taking all these games,” Banister said. “We’re going to have games like this one today. It’s a nice test of where we are and how we continue to compete. I’m not concerned in any way. This is two games. We are a call away from still playing in the game yesterday.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760