A May Stumble
Rangers mark anniversary of Nolan Ryan's no-hitter with errors aplenty
April had been such a good month for the Texas Rangers that we just assumed those vibes would continue into May. In fact, May 1 is an auspicious date in Rangers history. It marks the night in 1991 that current Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays at old Arlington Stadium.
The Rangers made sure to recognize that on the Rangers Ballpark Jumbotron during the second inning of their game with the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, that might have been the best part of the night for the Rangers, who started May with a 5-2 loss to the White Sox that included a serious setback, a big baserunning error and a second-guessing manager.
The serious setback was pitcher Matt Harrison, who is on the disabled list after surgery for a herniated disc in his back.
This was one of those “Mama said there’d be games like this” moments that every baseball team experiences.
Eight days into his rehab, leg pain sent him back to the doctor for an MRI. That revealed additional herniation in the same disc that required surgery on May 1.
Harrison’s timetable for recovery was believed to be about three months. Daniels didn’t want to be firm when asked if that timetable had changed.
“We’re hopeful [he’ll be back after three months],” Daniels said. “But we have to play it by ear. I know that’s Matt’s expectation [is to be back this year].”
The baserunning gaffe came in the second inning, and it impacted the game. The Rangers were rolling offensively. Jeff Baker, who has been scorching lately at the plate, hit a solo home run, cutting Chicago’s lead to 2-1. Mitch Moreland walked, Geovany Soto singled, and Craig Gentry singled to load the bases for Ian Kinsler.
Kinsler hit a ball that should have scored at least two runs. It hit the top part of the left field wall and ended up being a loud single.
Only one runner, Moreland, scored. Rangers fans looked away from Moreland scoring long enough to see Soto and Gentry stacked up on each other between second and third. That prevented the Rangers from taking the lead.
That one, manager Ron Washington said, was on Soto. Washington said two things were going to happen in that situation — either the ball was going to hit the wall or it was going out of the ballpark. Soto didn’t read it either way.
“He should have been halfway [to third], no doubt about it,” Washington said. “Maybe he scores [if he’s halfway]. If he read it properly off the bat, he scores for sure.”
But the seventh inning misstep was on Washington. Starter Nick Tepesch gutted his way through nearly seven innings, and the Rangers were down 3-2 when White Sox leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza came to the plate with a runner on base. Washington had Joe Ortiz warming up in the Rangers bullpen. His intention, he said, was to replace Tepesch with Ortiz.
But he decided against it and gave Tepesch one more hitter. De Aza homered to make it 5-2 White Sox.
“Bad decision by me,” Washington said.” I wanted to see if he could get out of the inning, and it didn’t work.”
This was one of those “Mama said there’d be games like this” moments that every baseball team experiences now and then. In the grand scheme, you take your lump and you move on.
There wasn’t much that would have helped the Rangers on this night. Well, except a Nolan Ryan no-hitter.