From D Magazine
Story Of The Game
A strike away from taking the lead in the AL Wild Card race, the Rangers watched as RHP Frank Francisco suffered a meltdown that had been unprecedented in his tenure as the club’s closer. Francisco, who resumed closing only last week, was handed a 4-2 lead going to the ninth. It was the first time he’s been asked to convert saves on consecutive days since April 27-28. Francisco, who has spent three stints on the DL this season with arm and respiratory issues, simply wasn’t up to the task.
Pitching mostly in the 90-92 mph range, Francisco allowed a leadoff double to David Ortiz. Slow-footed Jason Varitek was able to beat out a slow ground ball for an infield single. Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single up the middle to draw Boston within a run. After Francisco struck out Chris Woodward, the game got really intense. Dustin Pedroia drove a ball off the left field wall that a leaping LF David Murphy couldn’t quite reach. But he somehow fielded the ball on one bounce off the wall and fired towards home. 3B Michael Young cut it off and threw home to nail pinch runner Clay Buchholz for the second out. But with two on and two-out, 1B Victor Martinez fought off one two-strike pitch after another before doubling home the go-ahead runs with a double to right. Francisco also allowed a run-scoring single to Jason Bay and a two-run homer to J.D. Drew before being removed. It’s the first time in his career he had ever allowed more than four hits in an inning.
• 3B Michael Young hit his 20th homer and drove in three of the Rangers’ four runs. Young now has three 20-homer seasons. His career high is 24.
• LF David Murphy made an amazing instinctive play when he went into the wall to chase Dustin Pedroia’s double, then caught it on one bounce and fired into the infield in time to team up with 3B Michael Young and C Taylor Teagarden to gun down pinch runner Clay Buchholz for the second out of the ninth inning.
• RF Josh Hamilton continued his hot streak with a pair of singles and a walk. He is hitting .500 (20-for-40) with a .553 on-base percentage over his last 11 games.
• RHP Frank Francisco’s apocalyptic ninth-inning implosion could signal all kinds of trouble for the Rangers, who suddenly must question the construction of the back end of the bullpen.
• LHP Eddie Guardado allowed a game-tying home run to David Ortiz with two outs in the sixth inning. It’s the second consecutive game for Guardado in which he allowed a big home run.
• 1B Hank Blalock struck out in all four of his at-bats. He is now batting .216 with no walks since the All-Star break.
Stat O’ The Game
8.53: RHP Frank Francisco’s ERA since returning from his second trip to the DL this season. He has allowed three homers and blown three of seven save opportunities since he came back on June 20. He later missed three more weeks with pnuemonia.
Player Of The Game
Your candidates: Rangers RF Josh Hamilton (2-for-3, walk); RHP Kevin Millwood (Left with a 2-0 lead in sixth inning); 3B Michael Young (1-for-3, HR, 3 RBIs); Boston 1B Victor Martinez (Two-run, two-out double in ninth to give Red Sox lead). Vote here.