"I'll take a win giving up eight," said Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett, referring to teammate Cliff Lee allowing eight runs but still picking up the win Monday. "But that's baseball, man."
These are the types of games the Phillies will play with greater frequency in 2014, when small moments and decisions loom large. On this night, it meant that a pickoff play in the sixth inning, and a leadoff walk from a rookie pitcher making his big league debut in the ninth inning, were costly.
But the Phillies had their chances.
Second baseman Cesar Hernandez started the sixth inning in a scoreless game with a double. Ben Revere then bunted a ball back to Rangers left-hander Martin Perez, but Hernandez beat his throw to third.
Jimmy Rollins singled to center to score Hernandez to make it 1-0.
Chase Utley flied out to center field. Marlon Byrd stepped into the batter's box and Perez appeared to pick off Revere at second, but second-base umpire Cory Blaser called Revere safe. Rangers manager Ron Washington called for instant replay. The review took 2 minutes and 18 seconds, and the umpires correctly overturned the call.
Revere was out.
"The ball was just coming at my body as I was going back to the bag," Revere said. "It was like a millimeter away. The ball hit me in my back [when it hit the glove], and I thought I had my hand in there. … I was ready for it, but the ball was tailing and the guy reached and I kind of slid into it. Just one of those things, bang-bang. Even the umpire said, 'I thought you had a hand in there.' I said, 'I did, too.'"
Revere's mistake proved costly, as he likely would have scored when Byrd singled. Instead, the Phillies had runners on first and second with two outs. Ryan Howard, who hit fifth for the first time since June 29, 2008, followed with a double to right field to score Rollins to make it 2-0.
"That was a big pickoff, a big play right there," Sandberg said.
The Rangers scored a run against Burnett in the sixth to make it 2-1. Burnett allowed seven hits, one run, walked two and struck out three in six innings in his Phillies debut. He did his job, although he had hoped for better.
"Shutdown innings, you're going to hear that a lot," he said. "That's what starters do. I think a shutdown inning in the sixth would've been huge. Would've kept them at bay a little bit. That sixth inning, you've got to shut them down."
Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman allowed a run in the seventh to tie the game. Left-hander Antonio Bastardo pitched a perfect eighth inning against the bottom three hitters in the Rangers' lineup, the team's only 1-2-3 inning of the night.
Phillies rookie Mario Hollands made his big league debut against the top three hitters in the Rangers' lineup in the ninth.
"That's a tough spot for him," Sandberg said.
Hollands walked Choo on four pitches. Elvis Andrus' sacrifice bunt moved Choo to second. Hollands then walked Prince Fielder to put runners on first and second with one out. Sandberg called for right-hander B.J. Rosenberg to face Beltre, who hit a 1-1 fastball to right-center field to easily score Choo to win it.
"It didn't matter when it was going to happen," Hollands said of making his big league debut. "I'm supposed to get those outs. It doesn't matter if it's my first time or not."
Not including closer Jonathan Papelbon, Sandberg has stayed away from the other right-handers in his bullpen -- Justin De Fratus, Brad Lincoln and Jeff Manship -- the first two games of the season.
"I'm just using the guys in the 'pen," Sandberg said, asked if he is experimenting to find the best relievers for the best roles. "They're here for a reason. They're here to pitch. … It's not experimenting at all. It's putting them in the best situations to pitch and be successful."
Theoretically, Sandberg could have used a righty to face the bottom of the lineup in the eighth and have Bastardo pitch against the top of the lineup in the ninth, but he wanted his best reliever other than Papelbon to keep the game tied with a chance to win in the ninth.
"Bastardo is our eighth-inning guy," Sandberg said.
Rosenberg has allowed three of four inherited runners to score in his first two appearances this season.
"Coming out of Spring Training, he was throwing the best, as far as throwing strikes and doing the job as a seventh- or eighth-inning right-hander pitcher," Sandberg said.