Mathis struggles, Rangers fall to Twins
Rookie touched for nine runs in first Major League start
MINNEAPOLIS -- Doug Mathis' brief success as a reliever did not carry over into his first Major League start for the Rangers.The first pitch he threw was a pretty good indication that was going to be the case. Carlos Gomez's triple into the right-center-field gap was just the beginning. By the time his brief outing was done, Mathis had given up nine runs in 2 1/3 innings, and the Rangers were on their way to an 11-4 loss to the Twins on Tuesday night at the Metrodome. The Rangers have lost three straight, and their streak of seven straight series wins is over. They need to win the next two games here in Minnesota to avoid their first series loss since getting swept by the Tigers in Detroit last month. "We need to take a shower and let this one wash down the drain," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Winning two straight at the Metrodome is not going to be easy for them. The doomed dome -- due to be replaced in 2010 -- has not been kind to the Rangers this decade. The Rangers have lost six straight at the Metrodome and are 12-26 here since the beginning of the 2000 season. The only place they've had more trouble winning over the past nine seasons is Fenway Park, where they are 9-28. "It doesn't matter what team comes up here, they play well here," Washington said. "They put the ball on the turf, they can run, and they've got a couple of guys who can take you deep. Plus they have good pitching." The Rangers trailed 9-0 after three innings, and didn't score against Twins starter Glen Perkins until they broke through with three in the seventh. Twins reliever Brian Bass, taking over with one out and the bases loaded, kept things from getting serious by striking out Michael Young and getting Josh Hamilton on a groundout to end the threat. The Twins then responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. "It wasn't pretty," center fielder Marlon Byrd said. "That's a guy we have to beat. We have to help out Mathis a little. He was a little unlucky and it snowballed. A game like this, you have to pick up the next day, or this can start going backward." Mathis was filling in for Kevin Millwood, who is on the disabled list with a strained groin muscle. Millwood hasn't had any more luck against the Twins than did Mathis, however, with an 0-8 record and a 5.64 ERA in eight career starts. "I don't want to say I was nervous," Mathis said. "[I was] more anxious than nervous. I let that get the best of me; I was rushing more than normal. I was really anxious to get the ball and throw it. That's something I have to learn. When you're getting hit around, you've got to settle down rather than go, go, go." Mathis never really did settle down, but it doesn't help when your first pitch is ripped into the gap in right-center for a triple. "First pitch, I was just trying to get ahead and throw a strike," Mathis said. "He put a good swing on it." Alexi Casilla brought Gomez home by beating out a grounder to short, and went to third on Joe Mauer's double. Mathis did get Justin Morneau on a line drive to short, and Michael Cuddyer followed with a grounder to German Duran at third. Casilla broke for home, and Duran threw him out with a strike to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Mauer tried to go to third on the play, and Saltalamacchia did not throw a strike back to Duran. Instead, he bounced his throw and it went into left field, allowing another run to score. Mathis made it through the second inning, but not the third. Casilla led off with a single, and then came a vintage Twins play, one they do so well in their home park. The Twins sent Casilla on a 1-2 pitch, and Mauer bounced a grounder through the vacated hole at shortstop for a single, putting runners at the corners. "That's what they do," Washington said. "They put the bat on the ball. I thought Mathis made some good pitches but they still got some hits." The Twins were relentless from there. Morneau singled, Cuddyer doubled, Jason Kubel walked, Delmon Young reached on second baseman Ian Kinsler's error, Mike Lamb singled to left, Adam Everett brought home a run with a fielder's choice grounder, Gomez and Casilla walked and Mauer hit a sacrifice fly. "I thought I made some good pitches that inning, but they had a few broken-bat hits and had some good swings on the ball," Mathis said. "I fell behind some hitters, and when I did put it over the plate, they found some holes. But that comes from not getting ahead of hitters. I need to do a better job of attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.