ARLINGTON -- For three innings in the Rangers' 11-2 loss to the Astros at Globe Life Park on Monday night, Andrew Cashner was sharp as usual. He gave up two singles to open the game but allowed just one of the next 10 batters to reach.In the fourth inning, things
ARLINGTON -- For three innings in the Rangers' 11-2 loss to the Astros at Globe Life Park on Monday night, Andrew Cashner was sharp as usual. He gave up two singles to open the game but allowed just one of the next 10 batters to reach.
In the fourth inning, things unraveled -- quickly. The Astros scratched across a run and had the bases loaded with two outs, and Cashner induced a grounder up the middle to George Springer. The ball bounced off the dirt and into Elvis Andrus' glove, but it slipped out on the transition and a run scored.
Jose Altuve drew a bases-loaded walk, and Will Middlebrooks couldn't handle a ball hit down the line by Carlos Correa, another error. Marwin Gonzalez singled to score two more runs, and that was it for Cashner.
"I never found a way to recover," Cashner said. "Tried to make pitches, get the swing-and-miss, and it snowballed quick."
Once Paolo Espino replaced him and the dust settled after the inning was over, Houston had scored eight runs -- but just one was earned.
"We made some errors behind him with two outs there that he would have been out of the inning, had a ball that hit the dirt, bounced up and hit a guy," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "There were some things inside that inning that you just kind of scratch your head about.
"Cashner, he's been quality for us, and continued to pitch and tried to pitch through that. And again, wasn't getting hit hard, stuff was still good."
Cashner gave up seven unearned runs, which tied a Rangers record; the last time that occurred was Aug. 30, 1987. It's also tied for the most against a pitcher this year, the third time overall this season.
"It's just one of those things you keep processing until the next pitch," he said. "It's one of those things. I thought tonight I had some of the best stuff I've had. I felt my sinker was running maybe too much, but I thought I did a good job of keeping them off balance."
To say his off night is uncharacteristic would be an understatement. Cashner has been as solid as they come for the Rangers, serving as a de facto ace after Yu Darvish was traded and while Cole Hamels worked to regain his form after missing a chunk of the season with an oblique injury.
The 3 2/3-inning outing is the shortest of Cashner's season, and it came at the most inopportune time for the Rangers, who fell to six games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot. If either the Rangers lose one more game or the Twins win one, any shot at the postseason for Texas is gone.
With their playoff aspirations hanging by a thread, a sloppy inning that prevented their ace from pitching deep into the game might've ensured the Rangers' season ends sooner rather than later.
"It's been a must-win for us for the last two weeks," Cashner said. "We've put [ourselves] in a hole different times this season, we've responded different. We've just got to come out and win tomorrow. Today, I knew it was a big game and I'd try to do my job, and I wasn't able to do that."
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington.