ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers hoped to conserve their bullpen against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night, their starting rotation ravaged by injuries and young Nick Martinez scheduled to pitch on Sunday.
Instead, they needed to call on five relievers during a game that got away late and resulted in a 4-2 victory for the Toronto Blue Jays. The loss was Texas’ fourth straight, the sixth of its last seven and dropped the Rangers to a season-high seven games behind first-place Oakland in the American League West.
Rangers manager Ron Washington confidently said of his bullpen, “We’re in good shape.”
As for his overall struggling team, he added, “I’ve always prided myself in being a strong person, so I’ve got to be strong.”
While the Rangers ended a 15-inning scoreless streak in the third inning, they were limited to eight singles.
“We’re going through a little slump,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened to our team. You don’t want to go through a stretch like that.”
Eighth-inning doubles by Kevin Pillar and Jose Reyes off left-hander reliever Neal Cotts (1-3) broke a 2-2 tie. Pillar hit a cue shot down the right-field line. Reyes’ two-out dunker into right scored Pillar.
“You’ve got to have a little luck in this game,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “That’s part of baseball. That happens to us, too.”
Texas starter Robbie Ross was a middle reliever the past two years and won a spot in the starting rotation this spring. Jobs were open since left-hander Derek Holland was lost for at least the first half of the season with a winter knee injury and left-hander Matt Harrison wasn’t ready to open the season while recovering from two back surgeries last year.
On Saturday night, Ross lasted only 4 1-3 innings. In the Rangers’ last 18 games, they have gotten three quality starts – all from Yu Darvish.
“It was his command tonight,” Washington said of Ross. “If you look at the first four innings, he was getting the first two outs quickly. Then he threw a lot of pitches to get the third out.”
Toronto’s only run off Ross came on a two-out home run by Jose Bautista in the first inning. A two-out walk by Ross to No. 9 hitter Anthony Gose an inning later earned him a rare mound visit from Washington instead of from pitching coach Mike Maddux.
“I just wanted to let him know we play three outs instead of two,” Washington said.
The Rangers scored twice off left-hander Mark Buehrle, chasing him in the seventh inning and denying him a major league-leading eighth victory.
The Rangers’ day began with the announcement that first baseman Prince Fielder was sidelined with a herniated disk in his neck, ending his consecutive games streak at 547.
Fielder received a nerve-root injection on Saturday morning to alleviate pain that he has felt since last season and, according to Texas general manager Jon Daniels, caused weakness in his left arm. The Rangers hope Fielder can return to the lineup on Tuesday and won’t have to become their 17th move to the disabled list this season.
One of the 13 Rangers currently on the disabled list, left-hander Martin Perez, confirmed before the game that he will undergo Tommy John surgery on Monday.
And Texas right-handed reliever Alexi Ogando left the game in the seventh inning with a bruised pitching palm after trying to field a liner by Brett Lawrie.
NOTES: Recently retired Michael Young, a seven-time All-Star with the Rangers, was honored before the game. … With Toronto C Dioner Navarro returning from the bereavement list, RHP Neil Wagner was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. … RH reliever Justin Germano, designated for assignment by Texas on Wednesday, cleared waivers and is deciding whether to accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.