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The Rangers had struggled offensively alll game long. Blake Beavan, the former Ranger farmhand, had frustrated Texas hitters for seven innings. Then, Mitch Moreland lead off the eighth inning with a double. Ron
Washington, desperate for a run, sent Leonys Martin to pinch run for Moreland. Craig Gentry was up next. Try as he might to lay down a sacrifice bunt, he drew a walk from Beaven. The Rangers had runners at first and second with nobody out.
This prompted Mariner manager Eric Wedge to make a pitching change. He brought Josh Kinney in to replace Blake Beavan. Maybe the Rangers could get something going against the Seattle bullpen.
play on for Kinsler. Ian bunted through the first pitch for strike one. He knocked a second bunt attempt foul for strike two. Kinsler then swung through the third pitch to record the first out of the inning.
Sure, there were two more outs to work with. Sure, the bunt may not have been the right call. Kinsler needed to get that bunt down, though. His job is to execute the plan the manager calls for. Whether Wash calls asks him to hit and run, swing away, or lay down a bunt, it’s Kinsler’s job to make it happen.
Unfortunately, Kinsler failed. After him, Elvis Andrus hit a fly ball out to center (which would have scored a run, had Kinsler been successful with the bunt), and Michael Young struck out to end the inning.
Plenty of other players had the chance to change the outcome of the game. One longball would have sent it to extras at the very least. Nobody, though, had an assignment as simple as Kinslers that was as crucial as his turned out to be.
I’m an Ian Kinsler fan, but moments like that one are what embolden his critics. He can be an electric player, but he can be just as frustrating. The great Josh Lewin claims in his book, “Ballgame!: A Decade Covering the Texas Rangers”, that Kinsler suffers from attention deficit disorder (as does Lewin), but that Kinsler has found a medication that works for him. Taking as evidence his 17 errors (his career high is 18) and career low .969 fielding percentage, maybe that medication isn’t working as well anymore.
I’m certainly not a doctor, and don’t want to meddle in a fellow’s health situation. I just worry that Kinsler isn’t giving the team all he’s capable of providing (although I definitely don’t want him ousted from the squad).
The at bat against Beavan was only one of many high leverage situations Kinsler has seen this year. With Texas almost certainly making the playoffs, he’s destined for many more. I have plenty of faith in him to deliver when it’s needed, but he certainly dropped the ball against Beavan.