ARLINGTON -- With runners at the corners and one out in the ninth, Toronto center fielder Corey Patterson delivered a picture-perfect bunt down the first base line, sending both reliever Darren Oliver and first baseman Chris Davis scrambling to make the play -- Oliver picked up the ball and found no no one on the bag to throw to. One run came in, and Patterson reached safely.
It was a well-executed play. What followed it was not well executed.
Oliver walked Jose Bautista to load the bases before striking out Adam Lind for the second out. Needing an out to limit the damage to one, Adrian Beltre mishandled a ground ball for a fielding error that let one run in. With Oliver still off the mound, Bautista began to run to an occupied third base. Oliver's throw back to second sailed into center field, bringing in another run to end any chances of a Rangers comeback. They went on to lose 5-2.
"Games like that will happen," Oliver said. "You play 162, so you're going to come across some games like that."
Oliver said Bautista's movement towards an occupied base threw him off, but the 40-year-old veteran took all the blame for the bad throw.
"I just kind of got a little excited, and was running and threw off the wrong foot, and it skipped off [second baseman Ian] Kinsler's glove," Oliver said. "I should have made a better throw than that."
Texas manager Ron Washington said the play was the result of several improbable mistakes.
"Two not-so-well-hit balls [fell in play,] then the surest hands we're got boots a play, then we had an opportunity to get out of the inning and we threw the ball away," Washington said. "It happens. We'll just wash it down the drain and move on."
Tomorrow the Rangers (15-10) begin a four-game weekend series at Oakland (12-13). Outfielder Mitch Moreland said the A's rotation will be a challenge for the Texas lineup.
"They've got a great staff," Moreland said. "They're going to get on the mound and come at us, and we'll have to stick to our approach and grind out at bats and score a few runs."
Strop bounces back from hit batter to get a big out:
Reliever Pedro Strop entered the seventh inning with two outs and a man on first. He walked Corey Patterson before facing Bautista.
Strop inadvertently hit the Blue Jays right fielder with a 93-mph fastball at head height. At game speed, it appeared he had been hit in the head, but replays showed Bautista was able to get his hands in front of the ball. After having his arm checked out, Bautista took his spot to load the bases with Adam Lind at the plate.
The 25-year-old reliever said the Bautista pitch slipped, but he had to protect what was at the time a tied game.
"It's baseball, y'know, things happen," Strop said. "I just tried to keep my head in the situation and battle."
The ensuing Lind at bat was more a war than a battle. He and Strop fought through a 10-pitch plate appearance before Strop struck out the first baseman with a 83-mph slider.
"I just kept coming at him," Strop said. "And when I started struggling a little bit, I just kept my mind strong and kept believing I could get the out [without giving up a run]."
Washington said at bats like that will help mature Strop as a pitcher.
"I think that showed Pedro that if he trusts his stuff, he can get this done," Washington said.
He went on to say it was "a step forward" for Strop.
Ogando, Morrow trade quality starts, but no decisions:
Texas starter Alexi Ogando set a new career-high with seven strikeouts, while Toronto righty Brandon Morrow had six K's of his own in six innings of two run work.
Washington praised both pitchers in his postgame comments.
"[Morrow] has a live arm, he got some strikeouts on his slider, which was quick," Washington said. "And y'know he was like Ogando -- he had to work. He kept his team in the game just as Ogando did."
Both starters went six innings and gave up two earned runs. Ogando allowed four hits and had a seven-to-three strikeout-to-walk ratio, while Morrow allowed six hits and his ratio was six-to-one.
Strop gave up his only runs a two-run homer in the first inning, but smoothed out after that. He struck out the first two batters in the top of the first, second and third innings.
He spoke to reporters through a translator Thursday and said he was happy overall with his outing.
"It was only one pitch in that first inning, so it's not really like I was off the strikezone," Ogando said. "I know I had to keep going and never give up, and I did my job the rest of the game."
Ogando and Morrow left with the game deadlocked at two. Darren Oliver was credited with today's loss while former Ranger Frank Francisco got the win for the Blue Jays.
O'Day surgery went "well":
Texas reliever Darren O'Day underwent surgery on the partially torn labrum in his left hip today in Nashville.
Rangers spokesman John Blake said O'Day will be on crutches for five to seven days and will begin his rehab immediately.
O'Day was placed on 60-day disabled list yesterday and is expected to return to Arlington for his rehab assignment next week.
"It went well," Blake said. "They didn't find any other problems or anything, they just had to clean up the ligament."