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03/18/11 1:58 AM ET
Kirkman doesn't have best stuff, or any help
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Michael Kirkman was hoping to make a bold statement on Thursday about his desire to be in the Rangers rotation.
Instead he found himself a witness to the Rangers defensive car wreck at Peoria Sports Complex. Kirkman wasn't without some culpability, but seven errors and eight unearned runs pretty much told the story in a 15-5 loss to the Padres on St. Patrick's Day.
"Full moon," manager Ron Washington said. "It seems like we left our gloves, bats and brains at home. We just had a bad night."
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The Rangers should be able to brush off one poorly played game, although one of the errors came in the second inning when Julio Borbon dropped a long fly ball on the center-field warning track. He also had a throwing error in the eighth and now has five errors in 18 games, including three dropped fly balls. The dropped fly ball led to a four-run second.
"He drifted on that and got beat," Washington said. "He made a mistake, a physical error. We know he's better than that."
The club record for errors in a regular-season game is seven, set on May 24, 1976, against Kansas City. If it's any consolation to Borbon, six-time Gold Glove winner Jim Sundberg contributed two errors that day.
Kirkman was supposed to go five innings but was pulled with one out in the third. He ended up being tagged with nine runs on eight hits, a walk and a strikeout. Only four of the runs were earned. Mason Tobin took over and allowed three unearned runs.
"I felt good about my stuff ... that's something to build on," Kirkman said. "My fastball had good movement, but I couldn't locate my off-speed stuff. Every mistake I made, they took advantage."
It had been the reverse for much of the spring. Kirkman has some of the best off-speed stuff of any rotation candidate, which is why the Rangers are intrigued by him. He needs to get his fastball command on the same level.
"It's coming along but it's still not where I want it to be," Kirkman said.
Kirkman's night went sour from the beginning as Jason Bartlett led off the Padres first by reaching on an infield single. Chris Denorfia followed with a hard grounder off the desert-baked dirt in front of home plate that bounced high over third baseman Adrian Beltre's head. It went for a double that scored Bartlett, and Orlando Hudson's double brought home Denorfia. A two-out single by Chase Headley made it 3-0 before Kirkman got out of the inning.
"Tonight he was missing his spots," Washington said. "He was trying to go outside and the ball came back over the middle of the plate. It wasn't one of his better outings."
The Padres scored four unearned runs in the second, an inning that started with Kirkman issuing a walk to Cameron Maybin.
"That can't happen," Kirkman said. "That's just a total lack of focus."
Borbon then dropped the ball in center and the night just got worse from there for everybody.
"The thing about this game is, you can come back and play again tomorrow," Washington said.