Ailing Rangers fall to Mariners
Blalock a late scratch, Young exits in second inning of opener
ARLINGTON -- The double play Texas turned in the top of the fourth inning was just a sampling of how disjointed the Rangers' lineup was on Monday night.Scott Feldman delivered the pitch to Jeff Clement, who grounded it to Ian Kinsler at second. Kinsler flipped it to Ramon Vazquez, who was playing shortstop, and Vazquez fired the ball to Frank Catalanotto at first base. Chris Davis observed the play from third base. Feldman wasn't slated to pitch Monday night until the weekend. Vazquez started the game at third base because Hank Blalock was a late scratch due to an upset stomach. However, he moved to shortstop when Michael Young fractured his right ring finger diving back to first base in the first inning. Catalanotto began the game on the bench, but took over at first base, allowing Davis to move to third after Young's exit. While the defense held up, the lineup shuffling took its toll on the offense late in Texas' 7-5 loss to Seattle at Rangers Ballpark in the first game of an 11-game homestand. "Darn right it hurts," said manager Ron Washington of losing Young after the second inning. When the eighth inning rolled around, of course both of Texas' late additions to the lineup came to the plate. Vazquez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a Kinsler walk, brining up Young's spot in the order. Catalanotto, a left-handed batter facing Seattle left-hander Arthur Rhodes, put down a sacrifice bunt to move up both runners. "I would have let Mike swing there," Washington said. "You better believe I was hoping Kinsler would get on there. You had Cat there against a lefty. Once Ian walked, I was able to move him over with Cat." Catalanotto's sacrifice brought Major League RBI leader Josh Hamilton to the plate with the tying and go-ahead runs on base and just one out. With this in mind, Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima gunned to third during Hamilton's at-bat and picked Vazquez off for the second out in the inning. "I didn't go too far," Vazquez said. "I would have been safe by a mile if he hadn't blocked my slide, but [third baseman Adrian Beltre's] foot blocked my slide. He made a good play. "They really didn't want to pitch, with [Hamilton] up, so they tried to make something happen, and they got me." Hamilton ultimately struck out with the tying run at second base. "You can't wander and you can't think," Washington said. "We made a mistake there and it cost us." After grounding into a double play in the ninth, Texas got Brandon Boggs in scoring position, bringing Davis to the plate as the tying run. However, he struck out to end the game. Texas stranded 11 runners on the night. The third inning alone saw five Rangers reach base, but only one actually cross the plate. "There were opportunities all game to score, but we didn't come through, including myself," Davis said. "We had some chances, but [didn't] come away with any runs." On the opposite side, Seattle made its own opportunities, belting four home runs off Texas pitchers. Three came off Feldman in his six innings of work, including a three-run blast from Beltre in the first inning. "He settled down," Washington said. "We'd all like to see more zeroes, but he did his job. He went six innings. Beltre clubbed his second home run of the night in the eighth inning off Frank Francisco, who took the loss for the Rangers. The home run proved to be the dagger in the Rangers' collective heart, as Seattle tacked on an unnecessary insurance run in the ninth. With the loss, the Rangers whiffed on a prime opportunity to gain stability in the AL West, which made the loss all the more unsettling for Vazquez and his teammates. "We're playing Seattle, and they haven't been playing good all year, so we need to take advantage of that," Vazquez said. "I'm not interested in the Wild Card. I'm interested in the division title, but it's not looking good."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.