ARLINGTON, Texas -- Hitters have slumps. Pitchers do, too. And so do third-base coaches.
Texas Rangers third-base coach Gary Pettis had a tough weekend, capped on Sunday by a second out in three games made between third base and home plate. The Rangers went on to lose to the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 and were swept by the Orioles in the three-game series.
Both outs came on plays on which Pettis' first instinct was to be aggressive, which is the Rangers' trademark, and both ended with him putting up a stop sign and a runner ultimately getting tagged out trying to get back to third base.
On Sunday night, the Rangers trailed 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Ian Kinsler lined a two-out single into right-center field. Elvis Andrus scored easily on the play. Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis got to the ball right as Murphy was rounding third base, giving him a chance for an out at the plate.
Kinsler made a wide turn at first, hoping to draw a cutoff throw from Markakis, which he did. Murphy, steaming around third base with two outs, was stopped at the last second halfway down the line by Pettis. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts gave up on a rundown of Kinsler and threw to third baseman Manny Machado, who easily had Murphy hung up between third and home. The Rangers' rally was quickly over.
"If you get waved on, you go," Murphy said. "If you get the stop sign, you stop. We are going to have some hiccups. When you do it against a good team, they're going to take advantage of it."
Pettis, in his first season at third base after six seasons as a first-base coach, got a strong defense from manager Ron Washington, who was a third-base coach for 10 seasons for Oakland before being hired by the Rangers in 2007.
Washington said mistakes happen for everyone in the game and that Pettis has to trust himself and not become apprehensive while doing a very difficult job.
"First of all, there's no perfection in this game," Washington said. "I don't care if you're a third-base coach, a first-base coach or a player. There's no perfection. Sometimes as a team, when you're having problems scoring runs and you make some calls that don't go your way, sometimes you get a little tentative."
On Friday night, Jeff Baker was eventually tagged out at third base after Pettis threw up a late stop sign.
"The thing is, as I told Gary, trust yourself," Washington said. "Don't start second-guessing. So, that base hit right there, he wanted to send him and second-guessed himself, and he got caught in between. But that happens. Next time, just do what you think is right. If it turns out good, it turns out good. If it turns out bad, it turns out bad. But you can't play the game where you second-guess yourself."