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Rangers offense struggles to find big hit

For much of Friday’s ALDS Game 2, the Rangers offense continued to struggle producing runs.

Hits and base runners weren’t the problem. Texas outhit Toronto 13 to six. But the Rangers never got the big hit with runners in scoring position. It hurt them, especially early. The Rangers had two runners on base but Jays’ starter J.A. Happ was able to slip away without any runs crossing home plate in each of the first three innings.

Texas had five of their nine hits against Happ in the first three innings. In the second, for instance, Ryan Rua and Elvis Andrus singled with one out but Happ struck out Nomar Mazara and Carlos Gomez to end the inning.

It happened to us last year. Why can’t we switch the story this year? We know it’s going to be tough but we’re still confident.

Elvis Andrus on Rangers trailing ALDS 2-0

The Rangers finally pushed a run across in the fourth after consecutive two-singles by Mazara, Gomez and Desmond pulled Texas to within 2-1.

“It’s kind of hard to find a reason why,” said Andrus, who leads the Rangers with a .429 batting average in thE ALDS. “We created a lot of opportunities, that’s what you want as an offense, but we weren’t able to get that key hit.”

Happ left after five innings but the Jays’ bullpen was just as tough. Biagini pitched 1 2/3 scoreless relief after replacing Happ after Rua’s lead-off single in the sixth. In the seventh, Ian Desmond led off with one of the three Rangers’ doubles and moved to third on Carlos Beltran’s groundout. Desmond was thrown out at home trying to score on Adrian Beltre’s grounder to third baseman Josh Donaldson and Jason Grilli induced Jonathan Lucroy to foul out to end the threat.

“We weren’t capable of getting a good rally going,” Beltran said. “We couldn’t make anything happen. Happ pitched a good game, same way [Marco] Estrada did [Thursday]. It’s been a tough two days, but tomorrow we have to turn the page and move on.”

13 Runners left on base for the Rangers in Game 2 when their lineup was 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position.

Gomez, Desmond and Rua combined for seven of the Rangers’ 13 hits.

“It was tough. They made good pitches. When the pitchers make quality pitchers especially in those situations it’s not that easy. I wish it was that easy when somebody is on.

Texas finally pushed a couple runs over in the eighth, trailing 5-1. Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland led off with a double and scored on Gomez’s single off Francisco Liriano’s neck. Pinch-runner Jared Hoying scored on Desmond’s groundout to pull the Rangers to within 5-3 but Gomez, who had moved to third on a passed ball, was stranded when Beltran struck out.

“We gave ourselves opportunities,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “I think it comes down to they made pitches in some situations that we didn’t. We just didn’t come away with any type of hit that would break anything open for us.”

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