Wash gets creative, but Rangers quiet in loss
Nathan enters in second while Andrus plays third base for first time
KANSAS CITY -- Ian Kinsler has never hit a grand slam at the Major League level. But he admitted he was thinking about it in the fifth inning on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium."I did when I was on deck and then when [Asdrubal] Cabrera walked, it definitely entered my mind," Kinsler said. "I tried to get it out of my mind when I went to bat. I was just trying to get us on the board and have a good at-bat." Kinsler, pinch-hitting for Robinson Cano, did have a good at-bat. But the American League really needed a grand slam right at that moment because they were trailing, 8-0, in the All-Star Game. Kinsler, batting with the bases loaded and two outs against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and then flied out to left field to end the inning. It was the AL's best chance to get back in the game.
"It was a fastball, I kind of jammed myself," Kinsler said. "It was a good pitch to hit, he just beat me."Kinsler was one of eight players from the Rangers at the All-Star Game. Like the rest of the AL squad, nobody really distinguished themselves in a third straight loss to the National League. Manager Ron Washington was particularly disappointed. He joins Bobby Cox as the only manager to lose two World Series and two All-Star Games concurrently with the same club. Cox lost the World Series with the Braves in 1991-92 and the All-Star Game in 1992-93. "Well, it's very disappointing, because we're competitors and we want to win," Washington said. "But I think you've got to tip your hat to the National League again. They came out, they swung the bats, once they got the lead, started bringing those arms in their hand, and they got the job done." Matt Harrison had the toughest night among the Rangers' contingent. He came in to pitch in the fourth inning with his team trailing, 5-0, and gave up three runs. He at least pitched better than AL starter Justin Verlander, the reigning Cy Young winner, who allowed five runs in the first inning. Harrison retired the first two hitters he faced, then gave up a triple to Rafael Furcal, a single to Matt Holliday and a two-run home run to All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera. Ryan Braun also tripled before Harrison retired Joey Votto on a grounder to end the inning. "You come out here and try to put on a performance for the fans," Harrison said. "I had a rough inning. I got two quick outs and then they got to me. But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I had a great time. I will cherish this moment for a long time." Rangers closer Joe Nathan said Harrison had his normal stuff; he was just facing a tougher lineup than normal. "They hit some really good pitches," Nathan said. "The pitch to Furcal was on the black away. He just put a good swing on it. 'Harry' made his pitches. He threw the pitches he normally gets outs on, they've just got good hitters." Nathan was unexpectedly called to duty in the second. Washington wanted Verlander to pitch two innings but had to pull him after he threw 35 pitches in the first. Nathan took over and retired the side in order. Nathan said he can't remember the last time he pitched in the second inning. "Probably in Spring Training on the Minor League side to get a couple innings in down there," Nathan said. "Other than that, I don't know. Probably back when I was starting." Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus also found himself in an unfamiliar position. Washington put him in the game in the ninth inning at third base. It was a first for him -- ever. "I've played a lot of second base but never third," Andrus said. "I've played second base, the outfield, pitcher, never third base." Washington said before the game that Andrus was his utility infielder and might play anywhere depending on the situation. In an 8-0 game, Washington was only trying to get him in the game, and Cabrera was playing shortstop. Washington decided to take out third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who had replaced Adrian Beltre earlier in the game. "They asked me if I could play third, and I said sure," Andrus said. "Asdrubal asked me if I wanted him to play third. I said, 'No, I'll play it.'" He got one chance. Andrew McCutchen hit a ground ball to him and Andrus threw him out at first. "I can't wait to get the tape and show Beltre," Andrus said. "I'm going to teach him how to play third." Andrus hit into a force play in the bottom of the ninth, and Rangers hitters were a collective 1-for-9 on the night. Beltre, Kinsler and Josh Hamilton were all 0-for-2 while Mike Napoli was 1-for-2. Hamilton, batting with one on and one out in the first, drove one to deep left-center but not deep enough, and center fielder Melky Cabrera caught it. He batted in the same situation in the fourth and hit a hard ground ball up the middle that Furcal turned into an inning-ending double play. Napoli reached in the fifth on a single when left fielder Bryce Harper lost his high fly in the twilight. He was standing on second when Kinsler flied out to left. Yu Darvish was the only Rangers player who did not appear in the game. He was the pitcher that the AL was holding in reserve in case of extra innings. There was never any chance of that. "It was my first All-Star Game and I was able to meet and talk with some of the players," Darvish said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.