The Texas Rangers displayed two significant flaws last night at Fenway Park in their 6-3 loss to the Red Sox.
Earlier yesterday, the Rangers placed first baseman Mitch Moreland on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring and Lance Berkman played just his second game of the season at first last night at Fenway and looked shaky at best.
Berkman no longer can play the field.
In the 7th inning with Texas leading 3-2 and the bases loaded with one out, Mike Napoli hit what appeared to be an inning-ending sharp grounder to Berkman,who bounced a throw to Elvis Andrus covering second and by the time the relay got back to the pitcher covering first Ellsbury scored as Napoli beat out the throw.
Then with the score tied at 3-3 in the 9th, manager Ron Washington brought in reliever Michael Kirkman. With all due respect, Kirkman at Fenway in the 9th inning of a tie game does not seem the move of a potential champion team. The lefty now has an 8.18 ERA, a 2.318 WHIP, and a .364 BAA in 25 games.
Kirkman threw six pitches, four were part of an intentional walk.
Then I heard a voice, seemingly from the netherworld, but it was simply my wife channeling some fire-breathing, bile-spewing monster, “MAKE HIM PAY, BIG PAPI, MAKE HIM PAY!”
One pitch later, the ball on a line landed in the Texas bullpen. Ortiz stood at home savoring the moment. He stood there seemingly longer than it took for Pedroia to receive his walk. He stood there so long that he received high fives from teammates even before he started his celebratory trot around the bases.
“You’re just thinking about the (expletive) beating that’s waiting for you at the plate,” said Ortiz. “It’s exciting, you’re not thinking about anything at the time. You know what happened the next day when you wake up and you’re all beat up. It’s good, though, that means you won the game, that means something good happened.”
“They don’t like to mess with Papi late in the game,” Ortiz said. “They stopped doing that.”
Scott Lauber wrote in the Boston Herald that when asked if he thought the Rangers would walk Pedroia, Ortiz smiled.
“Not at all,” he said. “You don’t wake up a monster like that.”
“Apparently he was just sitting on that pitch,” Kirkman said. “I thought it was a really good pitch — good movement inside, right where I wanted it. He just got the barrel to it.”
The fact that the pitch was where Kirkman wanted it says plenty.
Texas manager Ron Washington said pitching around the right-handed Pedroia for the left-on-left matchup seemed to be the best option.
“It’s not the first left-hander Big Papi got, but that was the right move to make right there,” Washington said. “It was the only move to make. I can live with Papi doing that.”
He won’t live with that in the postseason.
The Rangers brought up first baseman Chris McGuiness from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Moreland. McGuiness was acquired from Boston in the trade that sent Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Red Sox. He was not at Fenway last night.
Nor was Kirkman’s replacement, whomever that will be.
Big Papi’s Walkoff