The Texas Rangers saw their record drop to 1-3 on Thursday night, and a reliever has been the losing pitcher each time.
But the club’s third straight loss, this time 4-3 to the Los Angeles Angels after Albert Pujols delivered a base-loaded walk-off single with two outs in the ninth inning, could be pinned on multiple factors.
“I felt like our bullpen threw the ball very well,” manager Jeff Banister said.
Left-hander Derek Holland also pitched well, Banister said, and the offense capitalized on its best scoring chances.
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But neither was good enough. Holland had two walks in the fifth inning and couldn’t pitch into the sixth, putting the bullpen in a tough spot, and the offense managed only four hits and missed out a big inning in the seventh.
Entering Thursday, the Rangers had won Derek Holland’s previous three starts against the Angels and eight of the previous nine.
“We’ve got to find away to get our offense going,” Banister said. “This is a good group of hitters. We’ve got to get them going.
“The two walks in the fifth, they both scored. That was the inning, if you look back on it.”
The Rangers had only two hits through six innings against Hector Santiago. The first was a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos to open the third for a 2-0 lead after the Rangers used a walk, an error, a balk and a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly for the game’s first run in the first inning.
Holland yielded a solo homer to Yunel Escobar in the third and entered the fifth inning at 61 pitches. But he needed 31 in the fifth, which included two walks before Escobar singled in the tying run and Craig Gentry doubled for a 3-2 lead.
Geovany Soto took a close 2-2 pitch before Holland missed on 3-2 for the second walk of the inning, and Gentry was ruled to have checked his swing before hitting a hard grounder down the left-field line.
Holland didn’t blame the umpires, though. Instead, he shouldered the burden.
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“I made some pretty good pitches, and you have to tip your hat to them,” said Holland, who allowed four hits and struck out five. “I’m OK with the way things went. I can’t be giving away free passes either.”
The Rangers pulled even in the seventh on an Elvis Andrus sacrifice fly with one out. Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland singled to open the inning, giving the Rangers runners at the corners, but Rougned Odor popped out for the first out when a big inning was there for the taking.
It proved costly as the bullpen couldn’t escape its fourth inning.
Sam Dyson (0-1) bailed the Rangers out of a bases-loaded no-outs jam in the eighth with a strikeout of Kole Calhoun and by getting Andrelton Simmons to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Dyson got the first out of the ninth, but issued a single and a walk with one out. Andrew Faulkner replaced him and got pinch hitter Carlos Perez on a weak grounder to third, too weak for a double play.
I was just trying to get him out and get ahead. I threw a fastball up and over the plate. He’s a good hitter and did what he’s supposed to do with it.
Closer Shawn Tolleson, who allowed the game-winning hit to Albert Pujols
That brought Mike Trout to the plate, and the Rangers walked him intentionally to face Pujols.
Shawn Tolleson entered, and his first pitch just missed low and away. The second pitch was a high fastball, and Pujols drilled to the wall in left-center field.
“I’m not going to let Trout beat us,” Banister said. “You pick your poison with those guys.”
It goes down as another loss for the bullpen, though multiple factors contributed to the latest Rangers defeat.