The Rangers went into the first game of a weekend series with Tampa Bay carrying momentum from back-to-back walk-off victories and a series win against the Phillies. However, that momentum must have been lost on the flight over as pitching was ineffective, hits were minimal and errors were frequent. The Rangers fell 8-1 to the Rays.
Coming into the game, it was safe to say that pitching was the biggest concern for the Rangers. With half the starting rotation placed on the DL, Joe Saunders was given a spot he likely would not have filled had his teammates been healthy.
The hope was that Saunders could prove his critics wrong. He could have stuck around for six and kept the Rays' lead to a narrow margin. He didn't.
After starting the game off with a three-pitch strikeout, it seemed that Saunders had shown up with his best stuff. Instead, Saunders set the pace for the rest of the game by walking Wil Myers and Ben Zobrist, giving up a single to Evan Longoria to load the bases, and then hitting Seth Rodriguez on the upper-leg to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
Rodriguez responded with his own brand of punishment - a three-run home run in the third to give the Rays a 4-0 lead.
Saunders start came to an end after four and two-thirds innings when a hard-hit ball from Longoria nailed him in the left ankle. X-ray's taken on the ankle showed that there were no fractures and the injury was only a bruise.
Daniel McCutchen came in to relieve Saunders, and also gave up four runs including a three-run home run to Ryan Hanigan. Pedro Figueroa and Alexi Ogando also made appearances, but both were able to hold-off Rays' hitters from doing any more damage.
Pitching was far from the Rangers' only concern. Elvis Andrus and Prince Fielder each committed an error while Adrian Beltre finished the night with two. Two of these errors allowed Tampa Bay Runners on base who would later score in each of the three-run homers that were given up to Rays' sluggers.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Rangers managed to put a run on the board after an Andrus' double was followed up with with a RBI single from Fielder.
The Rangers could have scored a couple more, but a base-running blunder in the fourth put a stop to what could have been a major adrenaline booster. A double by Mitch Moreland should have scored Fielder, but instead Fielder was tagged out in a run-down between third and home. It's debatable whether the fault in the out lies in Fielder's lack of speed or third base coach Gary Pettis' lack of signage, but regardless, the Rangers should have seen their first run on the board.
Jake Odorizzi, starting pitcher for the Rays, had never won a game prior to the match-up, but managed to only give up three hits in six innings pitched against a lackluster Rangers' offense.
The Rangers return to the field for a chance at redemption tomorrow, April 5 at 6:10 p.m.