A curious decision at second base, one made from some 2,400 miles away on the other side of the country, was a factor in the Texas Rangers’ 4-3 loss Friday night at Safeco Field.
A replay official’s authority knows no bounds, apparently.
But regardless of the fourth-inning flap with the rulebook, left-hander Cole Hamels said that any blame for the Seattle Mariners putting an end to the Rangers’ four-game winning streak falls squarely on his left arm.
After all, he said, he’s the one who failed to protect a 3-1 lead by allowing three solo homers in his final two innings, and no decision by an umpire watching on TV or a bad late out on the bases by Rougned Odor had any bigger impact on the game.
“I definitely have to be able to hold that lead,” Hamels said. “Not being able to get ahead of those key hitters, especially the home run threats … I definitely have to be able to establish the strikes early and get ahead of them so that they can’t get themselves in a comfortable position, especially when you are given a lead.”
Mark Trumbo started the fifth with a shot to center field, and Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano opened the sixth with back-to-back homers to erase the Rangers’ two-run lead. Four of the Mariners’ eight hits led off innings, something Hamels attributed to trying to be too fine with his pitches.
Through two starts since the eight-player trade that sent him to the Rangers from Philadelphia, Hamels has allowed nine earned runs and five home runs in 13 2/3 innings. The first Mariners run Friday came on a third-inning balk.
“When you’re hanging pitches and not getting ahead early, guys are going to get big hits,” Hamels said. “And that’s what they did.”
Manager Jeff Banister was lamenting a missed chance against Hisashi Iwakuma in the fourth inning with the Rangers leading 2-1. Banister asked the umpires to review a forceout at second base, where shortstop Ketel Marte clearly never touched the bag after taking a throw from first baseman Logan Morrison to retire Josh Hamilton.
Banister was told by second-base ump Lance Barrett that it wasn’t a neighborhood play, in which infielders are given some leeway on touching the base as they try to complete double plays.
Marte, though, never tried to get Shin-Soo Choo at first base.
Finally, after nearly four minutes, the umpires signaled out and then told Banister that the official at the central replay center in New York determined that indeed it was a neighborhood play.
Rather than having the bases loaded with no outs, the Rangers had to settle for first and third, one out. They scored a run on a two-out wild pitch, but a bigger inning could have been had if not for the intervention from the Eastern time zone.
“As I sit from my seat, it is confusing that you have a group of guys on the field that say it’s not a neighborhood play and then you have another group that say it is a neighborhood play,” Banister said.
“It is a key time in the game. Those are ones that we need to get right. It’s not going to be a double play, so how can it be a neighborhood play? We have to get that one right. That one can’t be wrong. There was no intent whatsoever. So, I don’t see how it can be a neighborhood play. Absolutely no way it’s a neighborhood play.”
The Rangers struggled against Iwakuma after the fourth. He retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced, allowing only a Hamilton single with two outs in the sixth. He ended up throwing 117 pitches in seven innings after hitting the 60-pitch mark in the fourth.
Odor, though, reached on a bunt hit to start the eighth against Joe Beimel, who spent time in Rangers spring training, but then was picked off by Beimel as Prince Fielder batted. Fielder flied out to the wall in left field, and Adrian Beltre, after missing a homer foul by about a foot, struck out.
“It’s a young mistake we had,” Banister said. “It was just an anxious moment.”
Mariners closer Carson Smith pitched around a leadoff single by Mitch Moreland in the ninth. But it wasn’t the Rangers’ cold offense or a decision from 2,400 miles away that cost the Rangers.
Hamels said that blame should fall on him for failing to hold a 3-1 lead.
“I’m supposed to hold that, and it’s definitely my fault,” he said.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760