MILWAUKEE -- Looking at the box score of the Texas Rangers' 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night could lead one to some incorrect conclusions. Despite all five first-inning runs being earned, the Brewers big inning wasn’t all on rookie starter Justin Grimm’s shoulders. A few defensive miscues in the inning likely cost Grimm and the Rangers any chance of limiting the damage.
Grimm gave up consecutive singles to Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura to start the game, and that’s when the defensive mishaps began. Ryan Braun drove another single to right field over the outstretched glove of Nelson Cruz, who misjudged the ball and jumped too early.
“I read it wrong,” Cruz said. “I thought he didn’t hit it that well. I took off hard, but I was running and the angle there [of the wall] I thought I was closer to the wall, so I jumped.”
Grimm managed to get the next two batters, but Carlos Gomez came to the plate and lined a ball to left field. The ball appeared to be catchable, but not only did it fall in front of left-fielder David Murphy, it somehow got past him and rolled to the wall. Two runs scored on the play, and Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a two-run homer, capping off the five-run inning.
Murphy said he saw the ball off the bat, lost it, picked it up again, once again lost it and that’s when it got past him. Unlike Cruz, who said he saw the ball well, Murphy seemed to have trouble locating the ball with the lights on in the early evening.
“I think the time of day maybe [affected me],” Murphy said. “But I think even if I was familiar [with the park dimensions], there’s times at my own ballpark when I lose the ball in the background. It happens a couple times a year, but it hurts when there’s guys on base and they end up scoring. And the next guy hits a homer.”
Grimm also missed a chance at an easy out when the Rangers appeared to have Segura picked off second. Instead of throwing the ball to second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was on the bag, Grimm threw it to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who wasn’t in position to place the tag on Segura.
Manager Ron Washington refused to label the play a "rookie mistake."
“Anybody could make the mistake; I wouldn’t put it on a rookie,” Washington said. “But when you’re a pitcher up there and you step off and make an inside move and see the guy off the bag, you throw it to the bag. He threw it to Elvis.”
“Once again, freak things, you know,” Washington said. “We’ll battle through it.”
However, when it came to the pitching, Washington felt Grimm was pretty much on point for the evening. Despite tossing 28 pitches in a rough first, Grimm managed to last five innings, striking out seven and walking three (one intentionally), while giving up only the five from the opening inning.
“It’s his job. He did his job,” Washington said of Grimm being able to battle back. “He wasn’t responsible for what went on. He threw the ball, and they ended up getting some big hits. The one that Betancourt hit really killed us right there, but Betancourt wouldn’t have hit that [if the inning had ended earlier]. He did his job. All he can control is throwing the ball from rubber to home plate, and he did his job.”
Notes: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was a late scratch from Tuesday’s lineup after a right oblique injury flared up in pregame warmups. Pierzynski was optimistic that he wouldn’t miss much time.
“I certainly hope not,” Pierzynski said. “I certainly don’t want to go on the DL.”
Pierzynski said he’d come in Wednesday and see how he feels. Washington, on the other hand, said he’d likely sit Pierzynski on Wednesday, and, after the off-day on Thursday, re-evaluate the situation on Friday.