Ouch, the first back to back losses of the season. The second straight series loss. This is the end of the Texas Rangers as we know them.
Not really, but it does show how manic-depressive we fans can be. When the Rangers were winning, as they were the entire month of April, it’s as if the team of our affections was Superman, impervious to pain, able to steal bases at will, more powerful than the ’27 Yankees.
Now, after starting the month of May at 0-2, the fingers have started pointing, the mood has blackened and we’re sure Lex Luthor has found a big hunk of kryptonite and placed it smack dab under the Rangers bench in the dugout.
Truth be told, this team probably wasn’t as good as their April record indicated, nor are they as bad as they’ve looked in going 2-4 over the past six games. In the end they probably resemble the April team more than the May team thus far, but the season will show us where they stand. Right now, it’s still firmly in first place in the AL West with the team considered their most serious competitor still either seven or eight games out, depending on how tonight’s game turns out.
A lot of scribes are going to say this two-game skid is perfectly understandable. After all, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre haven’t been in the Rangers line-up the past two games, so losses can be expected.
The problem with this is the last two games haven’t been lost due to lack of offense. Texas has scored 11 runs the past two games and even had a 5-0 lead in Tuesday’s game. No, the losses have come because two of the Rangers’ strong suits both failed on Tuesday and Wednesday: the pitching and the defense.
Tuesday Neftali Feliz didn’t have a particularly strong outing Tuesday, giving up two home runs in a 4-run 3rd inning to turn a 5-0 Rangers lead into a 5-4 lead. In the 7th, it was Elvis Andrus’ first error in 54 games, on a routine play no less, that opened the gates for the Blue Jays 3-run inning to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 lead. Elvis’ error opened the inning. With runners on first and second, a sacrifice bunt Mike Napoli couldn’t field cleanly resulted in another error and a bases loaded, no out situation. Alexi Ogando came on and got two groundouts right away, but both plated runs tying the game. A base hit later and the Jays had a 7-6 lead, with all runs charged to rookie Robbie Ross, who deserved so much better.
Michael Young tied the game in the 9th, but Mike Adams gave up a walk-off solo shot to open the bottom of the 9th. Bad defense, bad pitching, one loss.
Wednesday’s day game was even worse for the pitching staff. Matt Harrison had his second straight bad outing, giving up eight hits and eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings. Harry has now given up 14 earned runs and 22 hits in his last two starts combined, comprising just 8 1/3 innings. As good as Harry was in his first three starts and most of 2011, I hope this isn’t a sign of a physical ailment. Harry and Dutch (Derek Holland) have both had two consecutive poor outings. Long man/spot starter Scott Feldman gave up a three-run homer to close out the scoring.
On the good news side, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe continue to pitch well, even though they’ve mostly been used in non-pressure situations. Still, it’s good to know the bullpen seems to be pretty consistently good, at least more consistently good than the starters have been. Oh, and Josh Hamilton was named AL Player of the Month and Yu Darvish the AL Rookie of the Month.
As good as the Rangers have been the past few years, that success has not translated to Canada. Texas is a combined 5-11 at the Rogers Centre since 2009, including the 1-2 mark for this road trip. Thursday is a day off, then three games in Cleveland. Hamilton and Beltre should be back in the line-up. That would be good. What would be better is seeing Colby, Dutch and Yu dealing zero’s and the defense dealing DP’s. This team will play better. They already have and they will again.