ARLINGTON, Texas -- Forgive the Texas Rangers if, for one night, they didn't look like themselves.
After avoiding big mistakes and doing the little things needed to win games, the Rangers seemed a bit out of character in Friday's 8-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
It started early. Ian Kinsler bobbled a possible double-play ball on the first grounder he saw. He wasn't able to get anyone out in the process and instead of likely having two outs and no one on, the Rays had two on and no outs and started a big inning. Evan Longoria's homer keyed a four-run first and the Rangers weren't able to fully close the gap after that.
Even fielding plays that weren't errors weren't quite as crisp as usual. Much of that is because of the high standard the Rangers have set with their defense. A hot shot to third that Adrian Beltre usually gobbles up (he makes even the tough plays look easy) got past him in the fourth for a double. That same inning, Ben Zobrist hit a deep fly ball to the wall in center and Josh Hamilton was close to it, but it was just out of his reach.
The Rangers also had some trouble on the bases. Elvis Andrus was picked off in the first by James Shields. Credit must go to Shields, who has a terrific pickoff move and led the majors in pickoffs last year with 13. But Andrus said he learned a lesson.
"I kind of slipped a little bit," Andrus said. "That's another thing that you learn. Next time, I have to shorten it up a little bit. I'm an aggressive baserunner, and that happens."
In the eighth, the Rangers loaded the bases with one out in an 8-4 game. A pitch in the dirt got past catcher Chris Gimenez, and Nelson Cruz tried to score from third. But he hesitated before going (it's not an easy play to read from third base) and by the time he slid at home, the throw was there in plenty of time and he was tagged out easily. The Rangers ended up wasting the bases-loaded chance, effectively killing any opportunity at a rally.
“Maybe he hesitated in a situation there," Washington said. "If he hesitated he should have shut it down."
It was just one of those games. Several Rangers said they'd learn from it and move on. They'll get another chance to face the Rays on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. on KSKY 660 AM and FSSW.