Published May 15, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington had no explanation for why left-hander Bruce Chen was so effective against his lineup.
"If I knew, we'd have swung the bat a lot better," he said. "We really only smoked one ball."
Nelson Cruz hit a massive homer, but that was all the Rangers managed in a 3-1 loss to Chen and the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.
Josh Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single, but that was the only hit for the Rangers slugger coming off a week when he had nine home runs and 18 RBIs over a seven-game span to be named AL player of the week.
Hamilton even lost the grip of two bats that flew into the stands swinging at pitches from Chen (2-4). During his incredible streak last week, Hamilton hit eight of his nine homers — including all in his four-homer game — with the same bat before it cracked Sunday night. But he never lost the grip on that one against a series of other pitchers.
"I think Bruce Chen faced Josh Hamilton about as good as you can face him," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Two souvenirs in the stands."
Nobody was appeared be hurt by the flying bats from Hamilton, who is hitting .400 and leads the majors with 18 homers and 44 RBIs.
"That was a great win right there. Bruce was just superb," Young said. "He made one mistake, and the pitch wasn't that bad a pitch, but it was a 2-0 cutter right into Cruz's hot zone. Besides that, he was spectacular."
Cruz homered for the second night in a row, pulling a ball an estimated 416 feet into the second deck of seats in left field in the fourth. That was only the 17th homer hit there in the 18-year-old Rangers Ballpark. But he struck out his other three at-bats.
Other than that blast, Texas had only six singles a night after 19 hits in a 13-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Elvis Andrus extended his majors-best on-base streak to 32 games in a row with an infield single in the seventh.
Chen struck out seven, walked two and allowed only five hits over 6 2-3 innings.
"Mixing it up. Hard, soft, in, out," Michael Young said. "No patterns, just throwing anything in any count."
Scott Feldman (0-1) allowed two unearned runs over 4 2-3 innings in his second spot start this season.
"He certainly gave us a lot more than we expected," Washington said. "Unfortunately, the guy who made the mistake is one who doesn't make many."
Feldman gave up three hits, the last a two-run single by No. 9 hitter Alicides Escobar right after third baseman Adrian Beltre's two-out throwing error in the fifth.
Jeff Francoeur led off the fifth with a single before Chris Getz, robbed of a hit two innings earlier when Beltre made a backhanded grab of a scorching liner, hit a two-out hopper to third. Beltre had plenty of time, but threw the ball wide of first base.
"I just pulled it," Beltre explained about his second error of the season.
Getz then stole second base before Escobar's liner up the middle made it 2-1. Center fielder Craig Gentry made a diving play on the ball, but trapped it on one hop.
Rookie left-hander Robbie Ross relieved Feldman and got Jarrod Dyson on an inning-ending called third strike. Ross struck out two in his 2 1-3 innings.
Jonathan Broxton worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances for the Royals, who have won 11 of 17 since their 12-game losing streak in April.
Francoeur, part of the Rangers' first World Series team in 2010, had a leadoff walk in the seventh and scored when Pena grounded into a double play.
Like Hamilton, Cruz had 14 hits the previous seven games. But Cruz only had one homer in that span, a grand slam against the Angels that ended his 23-game homerless streak.
Texas needed a spot starter after a rainout last week in Baltimore pushed Colby Lewis back to Thursday. Lewis (3-2) will pitch on his regular rest Tuesday night against the Royals.
NOTES: The Rangers had been held to one run only one other time this season, a 1-0 win over Seattle the first week of the season. ... It had been three years since a homer was hit into the second deck of seats in left field until Mark Trumbo of the Angels hit one there Sunday night. ... Rangers RHP Yu Darvish said his body "feels normal" in preparation to start Wednesday for the first time since he pitched into the sixth inning Friday night even after a nearly 2-hour rain delay in the first inning. ... The Rangers' record streak of nine consecutive sellouts ended with a crowd of 38,702.