CLEVELAND —Ben Francisco sat motionless for minutes, staring at the floor — a stark contrast to the music blaring over in the Texas Rangers’ happy clubhouse.
Francisco misplayed a simple single to right field into a costly error in the 10th inning, enabling Jarrod Saltalamacchia to score from first base and give Texas a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
“It’s not a good feeling at all,” Francisco said softly.
Saltalamacchia reached on a two-out walk on the 10th pitch he saw from Masahide Kobayashi (2-2).
“A great at-bat by Salty,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “He kept fighting, then we got a break.”
Former Indians utility infielder Ramon Vazquez, who struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth against Rafael Betancourt, followed the walk with a routine single to right. Francisco knelt down to play it safely, but the ball bounced between his legs and rolled all the way to the wall. Saltalamacchia scored easily and Vazquez reached third on the error.
“I just got it in between hops,” Francisco said. “It can’t go through your legs. That’s the last place it can go.”
Jamey Wright (3-1) worked two scoreless innings for the win and C.J. Wilson pitched the 10th for his 10th save in 12 chances as Texas took two of three in the weekend series. Cleveland has lost eight of nine.
Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton was ejected for arguing a third strike in the sixth. He went 1-for-3, ending his streak of multihit games at eight, one shy of Rusty Greer’s team record set in 2000.
Hamilton thought he checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch from Indians starter C.C. Sabathia, but third-base umpire Dale Scott ruled otherwise. Hamilton returned to the batter’s box and showed where he had stopped the bat, then waved at Scott, who waved back—as plate umpire Bill Hohn tossed the .333 hitter whose 53 RBIs lead the majors.
“I probably shouldn’t have put my bat back over the plate,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t go off or anything, though the wave probably didn’t help. I didn’t say a word.
“I said a little more than ‘Why?’ after I was tossed, though.”
Sabathia gave up one run over seven innings—Ian Kinsler’s sixth homer to open the sixth that tied the score at 1. The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed seven hits, two walks and struck out five but again got little offensive support. Cleveland has scored two or fewer runs in eight of the left-hander’s 11 starts.
“I’m tired of talking about it,” manager Eric Wedge said, emphasizing that stranding 11 baserunners and hitting into three double plays was more responsible for the loss than Francisco’s misplay. “We have to get tough, have the courage to stick with the game plan and get better. There’s nothing more I can say.”
Texas starter Doug Mathis gave up one run over six innings. The right-hander, filling a rotation spot while Kevin Millwood is on the disabled list with a strained groin, gave up seven hits and three walks, striking out one.
“The kid pitched his butt off,” Washington said. “It was huge to beat C.C., who was dealing.”
Francisco doubled with one out in the first, took third on a single to left by Travis Hafner and scored on a single to center by Victor Martinez, who was back after missing two games with a torn nail on the middle finger of his left hand.
The Indians loaded the bases with one out in the second, but didn’t score as Francisco tapped into a force at home and Hafner popped out.
“If you don’t get angry, there’s something wrong,” said Hafner, hitting only .217. “It’s on the players. Nobody can give us a magic potion. We have to do it ourselves.”
Poor baserunning by the Rangers twice helped Sabathia out of trouble.
In the third, Francisco caught a short fly ball hit by Kinsler. German Duran, on first after a single, was halfway to second and easily doubled off for an inning-ending double play.
The next inning, with Rangers on second and third, David Murphy hit a looper that was caught on the outfield grass by second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. Milton Bradley was easily doubled off second to end that threat.
David Dellucci twice grounded into double plays for Cleveland. Martinez also grounded into one and was robbed of extra bases by Murphy’s over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track in right with two on to end the seventh.
Martinez, homerless in 145 at-bats this year, slammed his batting helmet to the ground. Thursday, he got his foot stuck in a bucket that he kicked after lining out in Chicago.
Is the frustration getting to Cleveland’s all-star catcher?
“If I say no, I’m going to be lying to you,” Martinez said.