Thoughts on a 5-1 Loss

  • Tanner Scheppers was better than he was on Opening Day. He lasted 5.0 innings on 91 pitches -- 59 strikes -- while only giving up 2 earned runs. In other words, he was just sharp enough to keep the Rangers in the game, despite allowing 9 hits and a walk. He was able to work out of jams rather effectively while limiting the damage and turning over a winnable game to the bullpen, even if it was a bit earlier than we would have liked.
  • The Rangers got their first taste of failed instant replay tonight in the bottom of the 1st inning. David Ortiz grounded into a fielder's choice, and it appeared that Elvis Andrus caught the throw from Donnie Murphy and dropped the ball while transferring it in order to possibly throw to 1st base for the double play. Daniel Nava should have been called out, but was called safe. Perfect opportunity for instant replay, right? If only things were that simple. The replay crew in New York, despite looking at what literally every other person watching the game agreed should have been an out, ruled that the call on the field stood, Nava was safe, and Andrus was charged with an error. First, you wonder why Major League Baseball even bothered with instant replay if the crews hired to get it right still get it so obviously wrong. I realize it's one call in what will end up being buried by many others that are still right, yet it still doesn't excuse missing this one. Furthermore, it lends to the idea that errors aren't necessarily indicative of defensive performance, as Andrus was charged with an error on what should have been an out.
  • I still really hate when Leonys Martin tries to bunt his way on base as often as he does. I'd much prefer to see him swinging for the possibility of extra bases, a higher-percentage single, or at least attempting to draw a walk.
  • The Rangers had a very real opportunity to strike in the top of the 7th inning while down 2-1. After an Alex Rios walk and steal of 2nd base to lead off the inning, Mitch Moreland moved him over to 3rd by grounding out to 1st. With 1 out and a man on 3rd, you'd like to see the Rangers at least come through with one run, but what followed was a Donnie Murphy popout, and although Leonys Martin walked, J.P. Arencibia grounded out to end the inning.
  • On Arencibia, I was disappointed that Wash didn't decide to use a pinch hitter in that situation. Coming into today, Arencibia was a career .211 hitter with a .664 OPS. His line at Fenway was much, much worse, with a .116/.191/.256 line, good for an OPS of .447. That was in 24 career games at Fenway. His .154/.214/.231 start to the 2014 campaign hasn't exactly been inspiring either, and yet Washington chose to allow Arencibia to bat. At this point, it's pretty clear that Arencibia is the weakest link, at least offensively, that the Rangers have. I think we'd all have preferred to see Jim Adduci get a shot there against the righty John Lackey. If not Adduci, then it could have been Michael Choice, Robinson Chirinos, or even Josh Wilson. Hell, I think I'd have preferred to see literally anyone at the plate there but Arencibia. For critics of Ron Washington -- myself included -- it seemed to be yet more evidence that sometimes, Wash seems to struggle as an in-game tactician, and his tactical decision to leave Arencibia in the game there was, if you ask me, indefensible.
  • We're starting to creep into the territory right now in which the slow start of Prince Fielder becomes at least a little bit concerning. After tonight's 0-4 showing, Fielder is posting a .143/.200/.179 line over 30 plate appearances. It's still very early, but  it's seemed that Fielder has had a difficult time getting the sweet spot of the bat on the ball in order to drive it, and he has just one extra-base hit so far on the season. Even worse was the fact that Fielder appeared to have worked a four-pitch walk in the top of the 8th inning with Shin-Soo Choo standing on first and only one out. That would have brought Adrian Beltre to the plate in what was still a 2-1 game with a chance to tie or take the lead with one swing. Instead, home plate umpire Paul Emmel called an obvious ball four a strike, Fielder proceeded to ground into a double play, and that was that. The first four pitches were all well outside the strike zone, which you can pretty well see from the visual below:

ESPN Stats & Information

  • Still a 2-1 game heading into the bottom of the 8th inning, Wash made another questionable decision to leave reliever Seth Rosin in the game. Rosin, who only made his Major League debut back on Opening Day, had already thrown 23 pitches in the bottom of the 7th inning, and Jason Frasor appeared to be warm in the bullpen. I understand that Wash was anticipating bringing Frasor into the game in the event of the Rangers tying or taking the lead in the top of the inning, but in a 2-1 game on the road, you've got to play to win at some point as opposed to playing not to lose. You'd likely rather see the veteran than a rookie when you're on the road, at Fenway no less. Rosin ended up being charged with 3 earned runs, giving the Red Sox the final margin of victory 5-1. The Rangers still didn't manage to score in the 9th inning, but I'd imagine the attack would have been a bit different if it were still a 2-1 game instead of 5-1. By the time the Rangers threatened with a short 2-out rally, they were no longer playing for one run, but hoping for a big swing to net multiple runs. You'd have a hard time convincing me that the offensive strategy doesn't change a bit there if it's a closer game.
  • Not to add too much insult to injury, but fans that have been clamoring for Fielder to be more of a DH than a 1st baseman got a bit more ammunition tonight as Fielder made what was an all-around awful play in the field. It ended up allowing A.J. Pierzynski to score from 2nd. You won't see many worse plays in baseball than this one.