Rough defense digs too big a hole for bats

September 4th, 2022

BOSTON -- Since holding an 8-3 lead over the Red Sox in the eighth inning of Thursday’s series opener at Fenway Park, not much has gone the way of the Rangers.

Despite a late rally attempt with homers by and Nathaniel Lowe in the eighth inning on Saturday, Texas fell, 5-3, to Boston for its seventh straight loss, and its third defeat to open a seven-game road trip.

“We didn't quit,” interim manager Tony Beasley said. “We continued to fight and battle in the last two innings, we got some offense going; that gave us a chance to possibly tie or take the lead in the ballgame. Bases loaded in the ninth and at the top of the lineup, Semien and [Corey] Seager at the plate, so you feel good about your chances. So I liked the way we didn't quit, didn't lay down and just continued to fight until the end.”

After being held scoreless through seven innings, the Rangers’ offense came alive in the eighth against reliever Garrett Whitlock. With Bubba Thompson on first, Semien sent a 1-2 slider into the Green Monster seats to put Texas on the board. Lowe’s 23rd homer tacked on another run, with the Rangers narrowly missing back-to-back-to-back jacks after Alex Verdugo robbed Seager against the wall in right-center.

But the Rangers already had a lot of ground to make up, despite a solid night from their pitching.

Making his first Major League start, Dennis Santana gave Texas two innings of one-run ball, striking out three and walking two. Taylor Hearn followed with two strong scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out four.

With Brock Burke on the hill in the fifth, the Rangers allowed an unearned run on an error by catcher Meibrys Viloria, who missed a catch at home and allowed Kiké Hernández to score. Rafael Devers grounded into a forceout on the next play to allow Verdugo to score the second unearned run of the inning.

Viloria’s error was one of three for the Rangers on Saturday, and one of five they’ve accumulated on this trip to Boston. Adolis García was charged with his own in the seventh inning after missing the scoop on a Devers liner to right. Xander Bogaerts advanced to third, and he scored on the next play after a fielding error by Ezequiel Duran.

“You never know when you're going to score, that's the thing,” Beasley said. “You never know when the offense is going to come. It could come in the first inning, it could come in the last inning. But the thing that you have to do is play 27 outs. … If we play 27 outs and just play clean baseball, and then if the offense kicks in late, what you should have, you get. And what the score should be, it’ll be.

“But when you allow things like that [errors] to happen and you feel like you give the other team a chance to score two or three extra runs, well then, that makes it tough on you in the end. We just got to play a good brand of baseball, just taking care of the ball and if the offense comes, it comes … but playing 27 outs, those are things we can control.”

The Rangers have the second-most errors in the American League with 83, one shy of the White Sox. They’ve also been on the wrong side of a number of close games. Saturday marked the 42nd time this season Texas has lost by a margin of two or fewer runs, with its previous loss in this fashion coming on Thursday after a 9-8 walk-off win by the Red Sox.

With 30 games left, including 19 against teams vying for a postseason spot, the Rangers have their work cut out for them as they enter the final stretch.

“It's a tough game,” Beasley said. “We can say it every night and talk about -- we should [play] perfect, no one plays perfect. When you're going through a stretch as we are, every mistake, you pay. And that's just the way it is. When you're going through a winning streak, you make the mistake, you play over it. But when you get into a funk like we are right now as far as having a tough time to win the ballgame, every mistake that we make, it seems like it's costly.”