Moving forward often means rehashing old wounds and growing from the lesson. The Rangers certainly had that on Sunday when they painfully squandered their lead to lose in epic fashion to the Seattle Mariners. Before the Rangers take the field this evening, lessons are to be learned from this experience.
Let’s look back…
At one point, it appeared like it might be a promising win, and first season series victory, for the Texas Rangers Sunday afternoon. But Nelson Cruz had other ideas when he hit a ground ball walk-off into the left field gap in the bottom of the 11th inning to lead the Seattle Mariners to an 11-10 triumph, stunning the Rangers at Safeco Field.
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Cruz delivered two home runs and five RBI’s in this game. As I’ve said before, the Rangers pitchers were going to have their hands full in this series. The struggle really showed Sunday, when Ross Detwiler took the mound, giving up two HR to Nelson Cruz and only lasting 2.1 innings.
The Rangers led the Mariners 10-5 in the seventh inning, but that lead would soon taper in the eighth inning when relief pitcher, Tanner Scheppers, walked a few batters and got into an ugly bases loaded jam. When Rangers manager Jeff Banister called upon closer Neftali Feliz, Kyle Seager came up clutch for the Mariners when he hit a two-run single into right center field to narrow the lead to one run. Feliz retired Dustin Ackley on a fly to center to end the inning.
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Feliz went back out for the ninth inning to try to get his first five-out save since 2009, but the Mariners tacked on a couple of more runs to win the game. I’m sure it’s tough being a closer and getting five outs against any team. Banister put Feliz up to the task, and Feliz took the challenge, so I applaud him.
The Rangers can’t blame their offense because the bats showed up that Sunday. However, the pitching didn’t. You can’t stress enough how important pitching is in this game, especially when it really matters. The Rangers had a big seven-run third inning. Leonys Martin sparked the rally with a leadoff bunt single. Jake Smolinski added a two-run home run and the Rangers led 7-2.
Rangers pitchers simply need to be more confident. I didn’t see that in any pitcher on Sunday. I’m not saying teams aren’t viable for making comebacks, but when pitchers are given big leads such as five runs, your teammates are expecting you to preserve that lead. Those are games you’re supposed to win. That didn’t go the way the Rangers had hoped on Sunday, and the ex-Ranger, Cruz, was behind it all to ruin the day for his former team.
Again, I ask myself, why would the Rangers let a quality player such as Cruz take his talents to another team? Not just Cruz, but within the last few years the Rangers let many talented players slip away. But there’s too many to name. Yes, contract negotiations can be tricky and not always go as planned. But sometimes the sacrifice to creating room for cap space is necessary.
This game was a tough one to swallow for the Rangers. But as teams do every day, they need to put this one behind them and get back to the drawing board. The Rangers will need to do that when they travel to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks at Chase Field tonight for the start of a two-game interleague series.