TCU head football coach Gary Patterson had more electric stuff on the mound than Rangers starter Joe Saunders Wednesday night.
Patterson hurled a sinking fastball over the plate to pop the mitt of Horned Frog head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle with the ceremonial first pitch before Saunders toed the same rubber and gave up six runs and six extra-base hits through four-plus innings in an 8-6 loss to the Tigers.
Detroit leadoff man Rajai Davis hit a triple on the second pitch of the ballgame and the heart of the Tiger lineup recorded a sac fly and two RBI doubles to supply Anibal Sanchez with an early three-run lead.
Back-to-back doubles started the Detroit fourth, and a fifth run came home on a single from Torii Hunter.
Saunders would exit after the sixth and final run came home on the sixth extra-base hit, a 400-plus-foot blast to center off the bat of Victor Martinez. The Ranger lefty allowed six earned runs and 12 baserunners on the night.
The Tigers recorded 20 total bases on just 16 at-bats against Saunders.
"The results weren't there but I thought it could have and should have been a lot better than it was," Saunders said. "I thought I made some pretty decent pitches and had some close pitches that didn't get called, but that's what you have to deal with."
Saunders threw just 42 strikes on 84 pitches.
"He hasn't been throwing strikes, and when he has it's been over the middle of the plate," manager Ron Washington said.
Shawn Tolleson came on in relief, and gave up the second of Detroit’s fourth set of back-to-back home runs this season on the first pitch to J.D. Martinez.
Texas lost its seventh consecutive game despite its best offensive output in the last eight days.
"It's definitely hard to comprehend," Washington said of the losing skid. "But it is what it is. We know why, we just have to score some runs and pitch better."
The Rangers’ offense showed signs of life in the fourth inning, when it brought home three runs on four hits (with the help of a passed ball and an error).
Adrian Beltre started the Texas scoring with an RBI double and scored on a grounder by Michael Choice. Choice was safe at first on an error by third baseman Nick Castellanos. Carlos Peña recorded his first Big League hit since July 13 of last year and later scored on Robinson Chirinos’ RBI single.
Carlos Pena hit his first home run since June 20 of last year for the Rangers’ fourth run. The sixth-inning blast landed just inside the foul pole for Pena’s fourth all-time homer as a Ranger. A sacrifice fly from Alex Rios cut the deficit to two in the seventh inning, but Pena lined out to end the inning with two men aboard.
After Tolleson’s mistake to the latter Martinez, the Texas bullpen retired 10 straight hitters before Neal Cotts allowed three consecutive men to reach and surrendered the eighth Tiger run of the game. A single, a walk and an RBI double brought home the final run for Detroit.
Rougned Odor reached third base with two outs in the eighth after striking out on a wild pitch. Leonys Martin lined out to right in the next at-bat.
Former Ranger Joe Nathan earned the save despite allowing a run on Beltre's second RBI hit of the night.
The series finale for the two clubs is slated for Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. CDT.