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There are worse ways to begin a game, but for Texas, Sunday's matchup with the Nationals didn't get off to the best start. Though the Rangers took down Washington, 2-0, behind a dominant Yu Darvish outing, they also made some history by effectively lost two challenges on the same inning-ending play in the top of the first. Per the replay data at BaseballSavant.com, there had been multiple challenges in the same half inning five times prior to Sunday night, but there had never been two challenges on the same play until Sunday's double-dose of replay.
The play in question occurred when the Rangers attempted a delayed double steal with two outs and runners at the corners. It initially appeared that both runners were safe, as Alex Rios beat catcher Wilson Ramos' throw to second base easily, and there was no return throw home. But second base umpire Scott Barry ruled that Rios slid past second base and was tagged out. Rangers manager Ron Washington challenged that ruling while Nationals manager Matt Williams challenged the timing of Elvis Andrus crossing the plate, as, if Rios was indeed out, Andrus' run would only count if he scored before Rios was tagged out.
The Rangers lost both challenges, and thus their ability to challenge any subsequent call in the game, as replays showed that Rios' front foot came of the bag before his back foot reached it, all while Nats second baseman Danny Espinosa kept his tag on the back of Rios' right thigh. Meanwhile, Andrus hadn't even reached the batting circle at the time that Rios came off the bag. So instead of having a 1-0 lead with two outs and a man on second, the Rangers' rally was dead without a run scoring. Thanks to the work of Darvish and his counterpart Tanner Roark, the game's first run wouldn't be scored until the top of the seventh, when Leonys Martin hit a solo home run off Roark. Coincidentally, that run also came after a Ranger, in this case Donnie Murphy, was thrown out trying to steal second base. The Rangers lead the major leagues with 25 times caught stealing, six more than the next team on the list, and are dead last in the majors with a 61.5 percent stolen base success rate. The top offender? Rios, who leads the majors with seven times caught stealing and has been successful on just 11 of his 18 attempts (61.1 percent). Given that the Rangers have a steep enough hill to climb this season, it might behoove them to flash a few more red lights to their baseruners. Yu Darvish can't pitch every day, you know.