ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rangers’ offense couldn’t convert in the key situations — a recent problem for this club — and the Baltimore Orioles did, winning yet another close game (no one was better in close games than Baltimore this season) by a 5-1 score. Texas couldn’t take advantage of a tremendous performance by Yu Darvish and the AL will have a new representative in the World Series.
The Rangers’ season is over after a late-season collapse. A club that led the AL West by five games with nine to go (and four with six to go) dropped eight of its last 10 to lose the division to the A’s and the AL wild-card game to the Orioles. They led the AL West for all but three days in 2012 and won’t play in the ALDS. … Baltimore will head home to host the New York Yankees for the first two games of the ALDS.
As has been the case the final few weeks of the season, the Rangers offense didn’t deliver in key situations. The fourth inning was a prime example. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners. But the Rangers couldn’t get the runner home from third with less than two outs. Mike Napoli struck out and then Geovany Soto had a check-swing strike on a 3-2 pitch. … Give Joe Saunders credit for wiggling out of trouble, but the reality is that Texas had multiple chances — the Rangers put a batter on base in the first five innings and managed just one run, which scored on a double play.
Josh Hamilton, perhaps playing in a Rangers uniform for the final time, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, a double play and a roller to the mound. The final strikeout came with a runner at second and two outs in the eighth. Hamilton saw eight pitches — all strikes — in the four at-bats. It ended Hamilton’s rough stretch the past few weeks and a terrible last few days for him. He dropped a routine fly ball in shallow center field Wednesday in the division-deciding game and then couldn’t deliver on Friday.
Manager Ron Washington decided to pull Darvish with two outs and a runner at second base in a 2-1 game in the seventh inning (Darvish was at 91 pitches). Washington elected to go with the lefty-lefty matchup with Nate McLouth coming up. He decided on Derek Holland, who threw 50 pitches Wednesday in Oakland and struggled. Holland threw a wild pitch to put Ryan Flaherty at third and then gave up a single to left to McLouth to give the Orioles a critical insurance run. … Koji Uehara, who has held lefties to a .188 average this season and has been very good against them since coming back from the disabled list, didn’t pitch until the eighth, where he struck out the side. That included left-handed hitters Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.
The 26-year-old Darvish was phenomenal, proving he could handle the big-game pressure. He gave up three runs (one was unearned and another scored when Holland gave up the two-out single) on five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. His slider was a tremendous out pitch as he got most of his strikeouts on the pitch, which just drops out of the zone on hitters. … Darvish got nothing from his offense and hung in, putting up zeroes and at least giving the Rangers a chance to do something.