Rangers Chirinos, Barnette discuss game-ending passed ball
Robinson Chirinos said the Texas Rangers’ latest walk-off loss, their second in a row and their MLB-leading ninth of the season, fell squarely on his left hand that failed to catch the game’s final pitch.
Tony Barnette, though, said that he’s the one who pulled the cut fastball too much and the one who walked the leadoff batter in the final inning.
No matter who gets the blame, the New York Yankees won for the second straight day Thursday in their final at-bat, this time 2-1, and for the first time in six weeks, the Rangers appear to be reeling.
That sentiment is not shared in the Rangers’ clubhouse, though. They hadn’t lost consecutive games since a three-game sweep at Oakland six weeks earlier, and they just completed one of the best months in franchise history with 20 wins.
“I don’t think we’re going to run up the feel-sorry-for-us flag today,” manager Jeff Banister said.
9 Walk-off losses by the Rangers, the most in the major leagues
The second straight loss kept the Rangers from matching the club record for wins in any month and trimmed their lead in the American League West to a mere 8 1/2 games. They enter July with the most wins in the AL and have the last-place Minnesota Twins ahead of them this weekend.
But all the good that the Rangers did in June, including a 16-4 record during a stretch of 20 games in 20 consecutive days, might be clouded now by the 9-7 loss the Rangers had Wednesday after leading 7-3 in the ninth and the ball that Chirinos missed on Thursday to allow Chase Headley to score.
“It’s been an outstanding month,” Banister said. “Obviously, the guys want to win every game. The one last night probably stings the most. I don’t think it tarnishes anything we’ve been able to do this month.”
Barnette entered as the Rangers’ third reliever and promptly walked Headley, who went to second as Wednesday’s hero, Didi Gregorius, put down a sacrifice bunt. Aaron Hicks was next, and he also took a walk ahead of Starlin Castro.
Castro grounded softly to first base for the second out, but in the process moved the runners to second and third.
Three pitches later, Barnette’s cutter hit off Chirinos’ glove, went through his legs all the way to the backstop, and his throw to the plate was late as Headley dived home with the inning run.
“You guys saw it. It was my fault,” Chirinos said. “I called for that pitch, and I knew where the pitch was going to go, and it was my fault not to catch it.”
Barnette, who picked up the win early Tuesday after the marathon rain delay, said that he pulled too hard on the cutter and missed his spot, making catching the ball a difficult task.
But he said that his biggest baseball sin was the leadoff walk.
“It’s unacceptable. We can’t have that right there,” Barnette said. “You walk a guy, and more times than not, they’re going to come around to score.
“A leadoff walk is never a good place to start. It’s just a tough pill to swallow right now.”
The Rangers’ bats were silenced by Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda and their three shutdown relievers, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Pineda struck out 12 batters, and the relievers added four more.
I don’t think we’re going to run up the feel-sorry-for-us flag today.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister
Yet, the Rangers were still tied 1-1 going into the final inning thanks to a leadoff homer by Shin-Soo Choo and five quality innings by A.J. Griffin, who allowed only two hits and struck out eight on 88 pitches.
Griffin said that the Rangers were taking a cautious approach with him in his second start off the disabled list, hence the early exit. But he said that he is ready to move into his next start with no concerns about his shoulder.
“I feel like I ironed some things out with my delivery,” Griffin said. “Pineda did a good job. He’s got that good slider, he throws hard, and he gave us a tough time at the plate.”
The game wasn’t decided though until the Rangers’ man behind the plate couldn’t handle the game’s final pitch.
“Robbie’s a solid catcher for us,” said Banister, a former catcher. “The reality is he catches that 99 percent of the time.”
And the reality is while it may appear that the Rangers are reeling, they’re not.
“We’re playing well,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “There’s always room for improvement. But, you know, it’s time to start a new streak.”
Rangers at Twins
7:10 p.m. Friday, FSSW