ARLINGTON – This isn’t how the Texas Rangers envisioned following up two World Series runs.
They collapsed down the stretch, blowing their lead in the American League West, and finding themselves in a do-or-die, one-game wild card playoff with the Baltimore Orioles.
Their season died Friday night.
The Rangers completed their season-ending slump with a 5-1 loss to the Orioles, eliminating them from postseason competition. Texas finished its season by losing 10 of its final 14 games.
The Rangers seemed to have a favorable matchup with the Orioles starting left-hander Joe Saunders, who was winless in six starts at Rangers Ballpark. But the veteran held the Rangers to one run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, handing it off to a dominant bullpen.
Rangers starter Yu Darvish did his job, keeping the Rangers in the game.
With the game tied 1-1 going into the sixth, the Orioles took a 2-1 lead. J.J. Hardy singled, advanced to third on a single by Chris Davis and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.
Baltimore extended its lead to 3-1 in the seventh. Ryan Flaherty had a one-out single, and Robert Andino pinch-ran for him. Andino moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Manny Machado, which ended the night for Darvish.
Darvish had thrown only 91 pitches to that point, allowing five singles, but manager Ron Washington turned to Derek Holland for the lefty-lefty matchup against Nate McLouth. It didn’t pay off, as McLouth singled to left to score Andino.
Darvish, in his postseason debut, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.
Trailing 3-1 going into the eighth, the Rangers brought the tying run to the plate. With one out, Ian Kinsler reached on an infield single but Elvis Andrus grounded out and Josh Hamilton struck out on three pitches.
Hamilton ended his night 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, and saw a total of eight pitches. The Rangers faithful booed the soon-to-be free agent outfielder after his final three at-bats.
The Orioles cushioned their lead to 5-1 with a pair of runs in the ninth inning off Rangers closer Joe Nathan.
Orioles closer Jim Johnson worked out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth, ending the game by getting David Murphy to fly out.
-- Drew Davison