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08/24/08 2:29 AM ET
Big lead slips away in McCarthy's return
Young homers as Rangers miss chances to even series
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- When the post-mortems are completed at the end of the season, this will be listed as one of the reasons for the Rangers' demise in the Wild Card race. No team has had a more difficult time holding on to the leads that the wonderful offense has provided. That's another one of those obscure esoteric facts that underscores Texas' pitching travails. The Rangers lost for the 41st time this season in a game in which they had a lead at some point, this time letting a six-run advantage slip away in an 8-7 loss to the Indians on Saturday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas has now lost 13 of its last 16 games and is four games under .500 for the season. "It's not even fun any more," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "We're a better team than this. We're getting leads ... giving them back ... not hitting, things are not flowing our way right now. We need to catch a break and make this fun again. This feels like April again. We've got to put it back together. We can't go out and play like this." Said shortstop Michael Young, "Obviously we're not playing as well as we'd like, but we can't look behind us. We have to bear down on the games in front of us and finish strong. I'm not sure you can point at one thing, usually it takes a collective effort to get out of this. We just have to bear down on the small things, fundamentally. Bearing down on fundamentals is the only way you can put an end to this." The leads that have slipped away wear on the Rangers. Those 41 losses with a dropped lead are the most in the Major Leagues. The Angels, who lead the Rangers by 16 games in the American League, have just 24 losses in games in which they had a lead. "You know those guys aren't trying to do that," manager Ron Washington said. "But sometimes you get to the point where you wish someone would pick you up now and then." That didn't happen Saturday night in a game that was delayed one hour, 14 minutes by rain and ended up lasting 3 1/2 hours. The rain delay impacted the Rangers' pitching. Brandon McCarthy, making his first Major League start of the season, warmed up three separate times during the rain delay trying to stay hot, and the Rangers ultimately decided before the game to limit him to 75 pitches. That got him through just four innings. He allowed just one run after walking the first two hitters he faced, but the score was just 1-1 when he walked off the mound after going four innings. "I got myself a little too amped up, but other than that I was fine," McCarthy said. "There are still some things to work on, but this is something I can build on." After McCarthy was done, the Rangers struck for six runs in the bottom of the inning against Indians starter Jeremy Sowers. Gerald Laird had a two-run double, Young hit a two-run home run and the Rangers had a 7-1 lead. It evaporated almost immediately. Washington was hoping to use Josh Rupe and Warner Madrigal to get the lead to the back of the bullpen, but they couldn't get the lead to the fifth inning. Rupe faced seven batters and allowed six to reach base on three walks, two singles and a hit batter. He did get one batter to hit into a double play, but he left with two on, two out and the Rangers' lead down to three. Madrigal came in and immediately gave up a three-run home run to Kelly Shoppach that tied the game. "That's got to hurt a team when they score six and we come right back and score six," Shoppach said. Apparently so. The Rangers managed just two singles and a walk in the last five innings after their big lead so abruptly disappeared. "We should have been able to get six outs and get the ball to the back end of our bullpen," Washington snapped. "We didn't do it." There was only one more run scored in the game, and the Indians got it in the eighth against reliever Jamey Wright. Shoppach reached on a one-out infield single, went to second on a passed ball and his pinch-runner -- Franklin Gutierrez -- scored on pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll's single just under first baseman Hank Blalock's glove. "It's frustrating," Laird said. "I don't know what to say. It's disappointing to lose a game like this."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.