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08/14/08 11:28 PM ET
Bats hit rookie, Rangers can't retaliate
Nine-run second goes unanswered as Sox sweep series
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The Rangers are done with Fenway Park for the season and can't get away from this place quick enough. Their starting pitchers especially feel this way. They made plenty of quick exits, as it were, during the games, and Tommy Hunter was the latest, on Thursday night. Hunter, pitching because Vicente Padilla has an inflamed muscle joint in the right side of his neck, allowed nine runs in the second inning, and the Rangers finished their three-day stay in Boston with a 10-0 loss to the Red Sox. Texas managed just six singles off Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka and relievers Manny Delcarmen and Mike Timlin in getting shut out for the third time in eight games. But it wasn't offense that was on manager Ron Washington's mind, not, after his pitchers allowed 37 runs in three games at Fenway. "Pitching... pitching... pitching," Washington said in assessing what went wrong. There is nothing left to say. There was no postgame ranting and raving at his ballclub. Everybody knew what went wrong. "It's obvious what disappoints me," Washington said. "We didn't pitch very well. Of course you're embarrassed. We're all embarrassed, because we feel we're better than that. It didn't work out. The guys didn't go out there and try to do what happened. You know it has to get better. There are still games on the schedule, we can still salvage our season. The season is not over, we just have to get better. "You can't go out there giving up seven runs, eight runs a game and expect the offense to pull us out. You don't win with offense alone. You've got to pitch." The Rangers finish 1-5 on their road trip to Baltimore and Boston and are back to .500 on the season. They are also 10 games behind the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card race. "This was not the road trip we imagined," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "We went backward. We needed to get some runs early tonight so we could settle down, and we couldn't get anything going. Right now, numbers-wise, we're not out of the race, but we have a lot of catching up to do. We need to rattle off some wins, not look at the standings and in September, see where we are." The Red Sox won all three games of the series and all seven games played against the Rangers this season at Fenway. Rangers starting pitchers had an 11.72 combined ERA in those seven games, and just twice were they able to pitch more than four innings. Luis Mendoza was the only starter to make it through four innings in this series. "I'm not making excuses, but when you're in August and September and you're playing Boston in their home park, it's pretty tough to beat them," reliever Eddie Guardado said. "They're a good team, obviously, but we didn't give ourselves a chance. You go back to the first game when we came back from a 10-run deficit to take the lead. I think it's different if we win, but you have to step on these guys' necks. But we didn't win, and this is what you get." The Rangers stagger back home to Arlington to open a nine-game homestand after their pitching staff had a 9.73 ERA on the road trip. They have allowed at least seven runs in six straight games for the first time in club history. They have a 7.17 ERA in their past 12 games. Hunter retired the side in order in the first inning, then allowed nine runs in the second on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter. He retired just two hitters and was finally lifted for Warner Madrigal before he could threaten Scott Feldman's club record for most runs allowed in an inning. "I left a few balls over the plate and they hit them," Hunter said. "I was pretty upset. The bullpen had been used a lot the last couple days -- too much -- and when that stuff happens, you want to be the guy who goes deep into the game, give the guys a break. It didn't happen." Feldman set that record on Tuesday. Prior to this series, no Rangers pitcher had ever allowed more than eight runs in a single inning. Hunter is now 0-2 with a 16.36 ERA. The Rangers have started seven rookie pitchers in a combined 33 games, and they are 9-13 with an 8.21 ERA. "You've got some young guys, and you never know what to expect," pitching coach Andy Hawkins said. "You've got a learning curve going on, and it's up to them when they get it. They're not backing down, they're going after guys with the best effort they can. But not all the lessons learned here are going to be easy ones. There are going to be bumps and bruises. Some good, some bad, but you've got to find a way to learn from what happened."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.