Two key baserunning plays proved critical on Tuesday night, when the Rangers missed a chance to build on an early two-run lead against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie. Instead Guthrie shut the Rangers down completely after the third and the Royals rallied for a 6-3 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
"They outpitched us and they outscored us," Washington said.
Guthrie outpitched Rangers starter Matt Harrison, who was done in by some high pitch counts. Harrison threw 82 pitches in the first four innings before the Royals, in a 2-2 game, chased him with three runs in the fifth.
"I guess I ran out of gas in the fifth," Harrison said. "They were fouling off a lot of pitches and ran up my pitch count. I was trying to get them to put the ball in play, but they kept fouling pitches off. I felt good tonight, but 80-something pitches in four innings ... that takes a lot out of you."
Harrison had a 2-0 lead going into the third inning. But it could have been more on a night that started with a one-out home run in the first by Elvis Andrus. In the second inning, Soto drew a walk with two outs and Moreland followed with a double into the right-center field gap that rolled all the way to the wall. That allowed Soto to score although Moreland wasn't sure.
"When I got to second and saw where the ball was, and where Geo was, I thought it was going to be a close play," Moreland said.
So Moreland broke for third trying to draw a throw. He did as first baseman Billy Butler cut off the relay and threw to third to get Moreland. After looking at the replay later, Moreland admitted that Soto would have been safe without his help.
"You never know what might have happened after that," Washington said.
Kinsler would have been up to bat. Instead, he led off the third inning with a double and was bunted to third by Andrus. That brought up Josh Hamilton, who leads the Major Leagues in RBIs. Hamilton fouled off one pitch, then took a fastball that missed. But catcher Salvador Perez fired down to third baseman Mike Moustakas and Kinsler was picked off.
"I knew I had Hamilton hitting, a lefty, and I took an opportunity to save that run for my pitcher," Perez said. "After the first pitch, I looked at Moose, and he knew [Kinsler] was way off the base. He got a big, big lead, and Moose gave me the sign. I said, 'OK, yeah, we'll do it.' The next pitch, we got him."
Hamilton struck out to end the inning. The Rangers did not get another hit until the ninth. Guthrie, who allowed five hits and a walk to the first 10 batters he faced, made it through seven, retiring 14 of the last 16 batters he faced.
"That's a big play ... you're staring down the barrel of being down, 3-0," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You've got an All-Star on the mound with a tremendous offensive club out there. To pick a run off third base like that and keep it 2-0, you still feel like you have a chance for something to happen and it did. When Salvy picked Kinsler off at third base and then [Guthrie] ended up striking out Hamilton, he really got on a roll from that point on. He got settled in, was banging strikes and was extremely sharp,"
The Rangers thought they had a big out on the basepaths in the bottom of the third. But home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale thought differently and the Royals were able to tie the game.
Lorenzo Cain led off with a slow chopper that Kinsler had to charge and couldn't come up with on the run. It was scored as an error and Cain then scored on a double by Alcides Escobar. After Alex Gordon moved the runner over with a grounder to Kinsler, Butler hit a fly ball to center. Escobar tagged and Hamilton made a perfect throw to the plate. But Barksdale called Escobar safe much to Soto's dismay.
"He said he didn't put a tag on him," Washington said. "He didn't need to tag him, [Escobar] slid into the tag."
That left the game tied and the Royals were the ones to take advantage of it, scoring three in the fifth. Gordon hit a two-run home run and Perez had an RBI double.