Late innings doom Rangers in loss
Comeback falls just short against Tigers at home
ARLINGTON -- Believe it or not, the score going into the seventh inning on Monday night was 3-0, in Texas' favor. But Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is where late-inning leads go to die.By the time the final out was recorded, Texas and Detroit had combined for 12 more runs and the Rangers found themselves on the wrong side of an 8-7 score, losing to the Tigers. Everything changed when Scott Feldman, who had been brilliant for six innings, trotted out for the seventh with a three-run lead. Detroit's offense suddenly caught fire and the Ian Kinsler-less Texas offense couldn't keep up. "We have to have other guys in the lineup pick us up," manager Ron Washington said. But it was the Detroit offense that picked up its starting pitcher, Kenny Rogers, after mounting no offense to speak of for the first six frames against Feldman. Feldman allowed just six baserunners over the first six innings and had faced no more than four batters in any inning entering the seventh. In fact, Feldman had faced just 22 batters through six innings, which was the exact number of batters he faced his last time out in Boston, when he allowed 12 runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I was just trying to mix it up," Feldman said. "I threw a little bit of everything. I was trying to keep them guessing." Feldman faced only three batters in the seventh, but couldn't manage to retire any of them before getting pulled. Carlos Guillen led off the inning with an infield single before Gary Sheffield stepped to the plate and put the Tigers right back in the game with a two-run home run just inside the left-field foul pole to cut the deficit to one. The home run was the 493rd of Sheffield's career and tied him for 25th all-time with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff. "He did an excellent job," Washington said of Feldman. "That pitch to Sheffield, he tried to get it out and it came inside. Somebody who saw it thought it might have been a ball inside. When Sheffield hit it, I thought the ball might go foul, but it stayed in." Feldman allowed a double to Matt Joyce before making way for Frank Francisco. Although he obviously wasn't as effective in the seventh as he had been the first six innings, Feldman said he had no reservations about going back out for the seventh inning. "I felt good," Feldman said. "I made a couple of bad pitches and they made me pay for it. I was trying to throw a sinker down and away to Sheffield, but it got inside on him." Neither the bullpen nor the defense behind them could preserve Texas' 3-2 lead. Francisco allowed a one-out single to Brandon Inge and a triple to Curtis Granderson as the Tigers claimed a 4-3 lead, which they wouldn't relinquish. Brandon Boggs had a chance to keep one run off the board on Inge's single, but his throw home was not only off target, it eventually took him out of the game. Boggs, whose right shoulder has bothered him recently, aggravated his shoulder on the play. He finished the inning and stayed in for the eighth inning, but was unable to bat when his spot in the order came up in the bottom of the inning. By that time, Texas trailed, 8-3, after four more Detroit runs in the eighth inning off Jamey Wright. With two on and two out, Edgar Renteria sent a ground ball toward Travis Metcalf at third base. Metcalf misplayed the ball, allowing the inning to continue as the Tigers reeled off four two-out runs. "The ones we allowed tonight hurt," Washington said. "We just didn't make the plays. I thought Jamey did a good job when he was out there, but we didn't make the plays behind him." Yet the Rangers got into position to retake the lead -- twice. Texas scored four runs in the eighth when the first four batters of the inning reached base and Joaquin Arias -- just recalled to replace Kinsler and inserted in the lineup when Boggs left the game -- drove in the fourth run with a bloop double up the right-field line. Josh Hamilton came to the plate two batters later with Arias, the tying run, in scoring position, but struck out. Marlon Byrd, who started the eighth-inning rally, walked and advanced to second on a Fernando Rodney wild pitch with one out in the ninth, but wasn't brought home. "I thought we did well against Kenny and their bullpen," Washington said. "We were just one play away and we couldn't get it. We had the trying run on base there in the ninth against their closer, but couldn't get it in."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.