Rangers tripped up by delay, Dodgers
Stoppage keeps Feldman from continuing strong start
ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Scott Feldman was on a roll and wasn't really worried about what was going on -- or not coming on -- high above the ballpark."I didn't have any complaints," Feldman said with a smile.
He would have preferred to keep on pitching. The Rangers wanted him to continue, even after the game was delayed by light problems.But, ultimately, Rangers manager Ron Washington had to turn it over to his bullpen, and Jason Grilli gave up a two-run home run to Matt Kemp that gave the Dodgers a 3-1 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night. Feldman and Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf both pitched five scoreless innings before the game was delayed for one hour and 41 minutes because of a breaker malfunction in a light bank at the top of the ballpark between home and first base. The bank was out at the start of the game, but there was more than enough sunlight to begin play. Neither team wanted a postponement and a doubleheader on Sunday. But by the fifth inning, crew chief umpire Charlie Reliford decided that the lack of visibility was a safety hazard. The light-bank malfunction was leaving a shadow of darkness around home plate and neither team was eager to continue in the gloaming. "No way," Washington said. "No way. The outfielders weren't picking up the ball off the bat and the hitters were beginning to complain that they couldn't see the ball out of the pitcher's hand." Said third baseman Michael Young, "My second at-bat in the third inning, I was fine. But by the fifth inning, we were just spinning our wheels and wasting time." The Rangers were hoping for a quick fix so that Feldman could go back out on the mound. The Dodgers felt the same with Wolf. That didn't prove to be the case. "They didn't know how long it would take to fix the problem," Washington said. "It could have been five minutes or it could have been an hour." An hour delay was the over/under for Feldman, who was trying to stay loose during the delay by playing catch. But once the delay went well beyond that, Washington decided he had to go to the bullpen. "An hour and 40 minutes, that's too long for Scotty," Washington said. Feldman had allowed just three hits. He did not walk a batter, struck out one and had thrown 57 pitches. He had extended the Rangers' streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 24 and appeared ready to pitch at least seven innings for the first time this season. Instead, he was forced out with his shortest start since the first one against the Orioles on April 24 that was Day One of the Rangers' turnaround. "It would have been nice to let Feldman get back out there and keep pitching, but I'm sure they feel the same way about their pitcher," Young said. Eddie Guardado took over in the sixth, and Juan Pierre, hitting in the No. 1 spot, led off with a single to left. Pierre, who has been a big boost to the Dodgers' offense in the absence of Manny Ramirez, then stole second and kept on going when catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's throw ended up in center field. He scored on a ground ball by Rafael Furcal. Andruw Jones, getting his first start against the Dodgers, tied it in the bottom of the sixth with a home run off reliever Cory Wade, his sixth of the season. But Grilli couldn't keep it tied after taking over for Guardado in the seventh. Grilli walked Mark Loretta with one out and, after Russell Martin struck out, he left a fastball up and in against Kemp, who hit it over the left-center wall for a two-run home run. The Rangers had two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh when Washington sent Hank Blalock up to pinch-hit for Elvis Andrus against reliever Ramon Troncoso. Blalock hit it hard but not hard enough, and Kemp ran it down in right-center for the third out. "I got it off the end of the bat," Blalock said. "He just got out there too quick," Washington said. "One more click and the ball is in the stands and we're tied." Instead, Wolf and four Dodgers relievers held the Rangers to just one run on six hits. The Rangers have lost seven of their past 12 games and are hitting just .230 in that stretch while average 3.3 runs per game. They also have a .284 on-base percentage and a .354 slugging percentage in those 12 games. "We just need to come back out tomorrow and play hard," Young said. "There's nothing in here that says anybody is going to panic with our offense. We're a confident group we can make adjustments."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.