Reliever Neal Cotts had first baseman James Looney dead to rights at 1-2. But instead of finishing the job, Cotts gave up a two-run double. That wound up being the difference in a 5-4 Tampa Bay Rays‘ win over the visiting Texas Rangers. The Rangers roughed up ace David Price for nine hits and four runs (all earned) in six innings.
On the mound, rookie Nick Martinez turned in a very unexpected quality start. Martinez finished strong, retiring seven of the last eight batters he faced. But manager Ron Washington went to the bullpen. The strange move seemed to be paying off, as Jason Martinez pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Alas, the payoff was short-lived.
With all the injuries to the pitching staff, Washington was no doubt counting on the new-look offense to come through, especially in a game like this when Price clearly did not have his best stuff. But the offense hasn’t performed up to billing thus far, having scored only 21 runs in 45 innings so far. Nearly half of those runs were on Opening Day. In this game, Prince Fielder was 0-for-4 and left six runners on base. Collectively, the team was 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Baseball is definitely a game of inches. If a fastball is even a little high in the zone or a curveball even a little bit flat, the ball might as well be on a tee. It appears that, at least for right now, the wounded Rangers will be living and dying by the inch. And that’s an awfully hard way to win games.