Mental Toughness: A’s 8, Rangers 2

21 feet below street level at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, there is a sign in the indoor batting cages with a heading that says “Mental Toughness”. The sign basically tells the Rangers that mental toughness is staying in the game at all times and how it is a disservice to your teammates to not be in the game at all times.

I was reminded of this sign driving home from my weekend in North Texas as I was listening to the Rangers drop the finale to the Oakland A’s. It was easy to be reminded of it because Eric Nadel brought it up on a number of occasions when the Rangers did something stupid. Mental errors this, mental errors that.

Colby Lewis had his first truly awful game in a long time. Lewis didn’t have his good stuff but then again, he was just as guilty of mental gaffes as anyone. His throwing error on a tailor made double play ended up costing him three more runs in the loss.

Another run came home when Jorge Cantu, with runners on the corners, decided against throwing to second for the first out of an inning-ending double play. Instead, he stepped on first for the first out, meaning the runner to second had to be tagged for the last out. By the time said tag was made, the runner on third had crossed the plate for yet another run.

The Rangers offense consisted of Josh Hamilton and nobody else. Hambo knocked in both Rangers runs. The Rangers ended their run of five straight left-handed starters faced with a 2-3 mark. Texas scores a full run per game less against left-handed starters than righties, which shows the importance of right-handed hitters Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler returning soon.

The past two games have seen the Rangers put four left-handed hitters in against the southpaw starter. Hamilton’s a given, David Murphy has done well against lefties, so he’s understandable. Alex Cora was in the past two games to give Andres Blanco and Elvis Andrus a day off. I guess I can go for that, too. What’s interesting to me is Julio Borbon. Check that, what’s interesting to me is Brandon Boggs.

Borbon has not done well against lefties this year, yet there he was, facing off against the lefties just about every game out when the switch-hitting Boggs was just sitting there on the bench. This is an indicator of how quickly Boggs got into Ron Washington’s doghouse after being called up from Oklahoma City. Boggs played two games in the outfield, where he had a couple of misadventures and hasn’t been seen in the lineup since. Guess who’s getting sent back to Oklahoma City Monday when Cruz is activated?

After such a great series against the Twins, it’s a bit perturbing to see the backslide against the A’s. Oakland has a great starting five to be sure, but the Rangers seem to be playing with a complacent attitude a bit. Maybe it’s the big lead. Trust me, though, that big lead can disappear in a hurry. Get this: after this series with the Royals, the Rangers go on the road to Minnesota, where they’re 0-3 this year. Then it’s on to Toronto, where they’re 0-3 this year. Then it’s home against the Yankees, who have beaten the Rangers four out of five this year before closing out with two at home against Detroit. During that time span, guess who the Angels have to play? The A’s, the Indians, the Mariners and the Indians again. The Angels may be in third place, but they have a prime chance to make up some ground here the next two weeks if Texas doesn’t get on the ball and start taking care of business. Home field advantage in the playoffs could be at stake as well.

Tonight CJ Wilson goes for his 7th win in a row at Kansas City. After the last two games, we really need that 7th in a row to happen.


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