Kela makes no excuses after lapse
Rangers reliever lost focus, then balked to allow winning run
LOS ANGELES -- Rangers reliever Keone Kela made no excuses after the Rangers' 1-0 loss to the Dodgers on Thursday.
"It's pretty simple. I beat myself tonight," Kela said.
He did so by committing the first balk of his young career. It came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of a scoreless game, Kiké Hernandez at third base and a 1-2 count on Jimmy Rollins.
Kela, working out of the stretch, was one strike away from getting out of a jam and sending the game into extra innings. Then it happened. Hernandez bluffed breaking for home and Kela fell for it. He flinched slightly with his shoulder and home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson called a balk.
Game over. Dodgers 1, Rangers 0.
"We saw it," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The slight turn of the shoulder. It was slight but it was there. It was a lack of focus. You have to keep your focus on the hitter and the task at hand. It's a play we know is out there. Other teams try it."
The balk was the deciding play, but there was another factor. Kela, taking over in the ninth, walked the first two batters he faced: Yasmani Grandal and Andre Ethier. Hernandez ran for Grandal.
With two on and nobody out, Kela almost walked Alberto Callaspo, who was trying to bunt. The count went 3-and-1, Callaspo fouled off a bunt and then hit a hard grounder right at first baseman Mitch Moreland. The Rangers turned the double play and Hernandez went to third.
The walks were uncharacteristic of Kela. He had been averaging 2.4 walks per nine innings and this was only the second time he walked two in one game.
"He was just missing low," Banister said. "There was nothing I saw, he was just out of the strike zone. He got the double play and we were in good shape. I felt like if we could have gotten out of that inning we would have been in good shape."