Unable to score enough runs in too many games, the Texas Rangers find themselves in territory unheard of during their recent years of success.
The team was shut out three times last week and scored more than four runs just once as it lost five of seven games. That moved Texas six games behind the Oakland Athletics in the American League West division, the farthest behind it has been since 2009.
Combined with being previously swept by the Baltimore Orioles, the Rangers have a 2-8 record since the All-Star break with a .241 batting average, .340 slugging percentage and averaging just 2.5 runs per game. The stretch finished Sunday by being swept in Cleveland for the first time since 1980 including shutouts the final two games. The Rangers haven’t scored in 21 innings since the eighth inning Friday night.
“We didn’t show a lot of life today,” outfielder David Murphy told mlb.com. “But we had a good meeting and everybody is on the same page and we need to get back on track. It’s a challenge, but that’s exactly what the mission is: bring the same energy and effort to the field every day.”
The 40-minute closed-door meeting allowed manager Ron Washington to get some things off his chest that he hopes spurs the Rangers back to normal.
“I’m not upset at my team, but I’m upset at the way we played,” Washington said. “These are my guys. I’m going to be on their ship until it sinks, and I don’t think it will sink. But I thought there was a message to be sent and everybody has to be a part of it. I saw stuff today that I thought needed to be corrected.
“It’s a tough game. Everybody struggles. A lot of things happen that don’t go in your favor. But toughness never goes away. Every day you have to be tough. Today was just a different animal. It looked like we were sleeping walking.”
The week’s bright spot was the pitching, thanks in major part to the bolstering of the starting rotation. All-Star Yu Darvish returned after missing one turn with two stellar performances, a 3-0 shutout of the New York Yankees, but a 1-0 loss to the Indians. Newcomer Matt Garza was strong in a 3-1 win over the Yankees and Alexi Ogando returned from the disabled list Tuesday to pitch well in a game lost by the bullpen.
Back to the West this week
Garza is on the mound when the Rangers return home Monday night for an unusual four-game stretch. They first host the arch-rival Los Angeles of Anaheim for three games, then the Arizona Diamondbacks in a make up of a May 29 rainout. Then it’s on to Oakland for three games with the American League West division-leading Athletics.
The Angels will be without first baseman Albert Pujols, who was placed on the disabled list over the weekend and may be gone for the season with a partial tear in the inflamed ligament of the arch of his left foot. His star-studded team is in even worse shape the the Rangers with a 48-55 record, 13 games behind Oakland. Mike Trout leads the team with a .321 batting average and 65 runs batted in while Mark Trumbo had the most home runs with 22. Ex-Ranger Josh Hamilton is batting.220 with 15 HRs and 43 RBI. Former Ranger C.J. Wilson has the most wins with 11 and best earned run average a 3.18.
Texas hopes to avenge a double-header loss at Arizona with a second home win against the Diamondbacks. Leading the National League West at the All-Star break, Arizona has gone 4-6 since to fall behind the Los Angeles Dodgers by 2.5 games.
Oakland is fresh off a three-game home sweep of the Angels to extend its division lead. The Rangers have a 6-4 record against the A’s in 2013, including two of three wins in Oakland in May, and need wins to climb back into the division race.
7/29 Angels 6:05 p.m.
7/30 Angels 7:05 p.m.
7/31 Angels 7:05 p.m.
8/1 Diamondbacks 6:05 p.m.
8/2 @Athletics 9:07 p.m.
8/3 @Athletics 3:05 p.m.
8/4 @Athletics 3:07 p.m.