July 24, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Daniel Nava (66) is congratulated by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (2) after scoring the go ahead run against the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Red Sox won beating the Ranges 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
A frustrating 2-1 loss to the Red Sox was highlighted by Joe Nathan's sudden loss of command in the ninth inning.
With two outs in the top of the ninth and the score tied 1-1, the Boston Red Sox won the game with a walk from their No. 7 hitter (LF David Nava), a walk from their No. 8 hitter (C Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and a bloop single from their No. 9 hitter (SS Mike Aviles) that snuck over the out-stretched glove of Elvis Andrus.
No closer, not even Mariano Rivera, is perfect, but that's not how you want a high-priced veteran like Joe Nathan to lose a game. Nathan never found his command, throwing only 14 of his 29 pitches for strikes in the ninth.
In a game where the two teams combined to go for 1-11 with runners in scoring position, the unlikely hero was a slap-hitting shortstop hitting .260/.283/.407 on the season.
The Rangers struggling offense certainly wasn't helped by a wave of absences: Ian Kinsler was ejected arguing a pick-off call in the bottom of the first while Adrian Beltre had to be helped off the field when Vicente Padilla hit him in the head with a 92 mph "sinker" in the bottom of the eighth.
Michael Young, meanwhile, was absent in spirit if not the body. Young, who was 0-4 in the game, went 0-2 with runners in scoring position, once again doing his best to kill any possible rally from the No. 6 hole.
It's hard to call it a slump when a 35-year old 1B/DH hits .268/.297/.348 in 377 at-bats. The month of July has been particularly gruesome for the "face of the franchise":
Michael Young has more GIDPs in the month of July than he has XBHs and walks, combined.— Adam J. Morris (@lonestarball) July 25, 2012
For some perspective, Young's slash lines are only marginally better than Yorvit Torrealba's. There have been fans displeased with Torrealba's production this season, but you take what you can get from a back-up catcher. Not so much from a player who spends most of his time as the designated hitter.
Of course, Young was hardly the only Ranger who struggled on Tuesday. Boston starter Clay Bucholz took advantage of their free-swinging bats, getting through 7 innings in only 105 pitches.
The only batter who could get much going was Elvis Andrus, who used his speed to make it over to third base twice and scored the team's lone run.
The lack of pop from the Texas lineup overshadowed a strong performance by rookie starter Martin Perez, who allowed only 1 run in 6 innings. The 22-year old righthander, a highly-touted prospect being given his first chance in the show, had only one real spot of trouble against the Red Sox, when he walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the second.
He finished the game with 5 hits, 2 walks and 1 strikeout, moving his ERA to 4.26 in 19 innings. With the Rangers suddenly lacking options in their rotation, Perez may have done enough to earn at least one more trip to the mound this year.
Considering the offense's continued struggles on a night when they were starting a pitcher younger than 36 of the 38 players that have played for Double AA Frisco this season, Texas had to be happy going into the ninth tied with a Boston team that still has a chance to make noise in the AL playoff race.
Nathan has walked only 7 batters (compared to 37 K's) in 39 innings this year. Unfortunately for the Rangers, he picked a bad time to string two of those walks together.