Cole Hamels' troubles started in third inning
For about a month, give or take a couple days, just about everything the Texas Rangers did went right.
For the past five days, just about nothing has gone right, even Sunday with their best pitcher on the mound.
Cole Hamels had his shortest outing since joining the Rangers, allowing five runs in four-plus innings as the Minnesota Twins hung on for a 5-4 victory that sent the Rangers to their first series loss since May.
The Rangers have lost four of their past five games on this 10-game road trip that resumes Monday against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. They had an 11-0-2 series record since a three-game sweep May 16-18 at Oakland.
The Twins have the worst record in the major leagues, and the Rangers have the most wins.
This is the big leagues. Every team in the big leagues is capable.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister
“Look, it’s early July,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We have to continue to play well and give ourselves opportunities to win some ballgames. This is the big leagues. Every team in the big leagues is capable.”
Hamels said that he couldn’t locate his pitches, especially his cutter, on a day when the Rangers needed him to go deep into the game.
Things appeared to be going well early on for Hamels, who worked seven scoreless innings on only 86 pitches Tuesday at Yankee Stadium to win his fourth consecutive start.
Hamels (9-2) worked around a two-out walk in the first and a two-out single in the second to take a shutout and a 1-0 lead into the third. He had two outs when he picked off Danny Santana, but first baseman Jurickson Profar, in the game after Mitch Moreland was an injury scratch, never made a throw to second.
“It looked like he struggled getting the ball out of the glove,” Banister said.
The next batter was Miguel Sano, who reached on an infield single as shortstop Elvis Andrus couldn’t cleanly field a roller toward second base.
Brian Dozier followed with a triple off the wall in right-center and scored as Robbie Grossman singled for a 3-1 lead.
“You still have to make pitches, and I wasn’t able to make pitches,” Hamels said. “You just have to grind away. I left a pitch a lot higher to Dozier, and he’s a strong guy. He hit it exactly where he wanted it to be.”
But Hamels and the Rangers were down only 3-2 as he went back to the mound for the Twins’ fifth. The Rangers threw out two Twins runners at the plate on back-to-back plays in a scoreless fourth, despite two singles and a double, and scored in their fifth as Andrus drove in Rougned Odor after a leadoff double.
But Minnesota opened the fifth with two walks and two singles to chase Hamels. A second run scored in the inning as a video challenge turned an inning-ending double play into an RBI fielder’s choice.
3 Losses for Cole Hamels since joining the Rangers on July 31, 2015
“We were just a couple inches from getting out of that inning,” Banister said.
But the Rangers got back into the game in the seventh after a two-out error on Sano allowed Andrus to reach. Profar and Moreland, who pinch-hit, drew walks to loaded the bases, and Choo scored two with a slicing double to left.
Robinson Chirinos, pinch-running for Moreland, was held at third.
“I wasn’t going to risk it,” third-base coach Spike Owen said.
Besides, the Rangers’ best hitter was next. Ian Desmond just missed a double down the right-field line as the ball sliced foul. He then grounded to Sano, who bobbled the ball and threw low to first base. Joe Mauer, though, made the scoop, and the Twins kept a 5-4 lead.
That was it for the Rangers’ offense, though Choo got one last crack at tying the score after Chirinos doubled with two outs in the ninth. Choo hit a hard grounder to second, which Dozier bobbled before getting the game’s last out.
Hamels was disappointed that he made an already tired bullpen log four more innings. Banister, though, said that’s baseball.
“No pitcher is immune to having a game like this,” Banister said.