By Will Martin
Let’s be clear when stating that being right is not important. Really. Honestly. Straight up with you.
Being right for those who obsess on that sort of thing comes from a place of ego and pride, sometimes rooted with the emotions of one being placed upon thy sleeve.
If your mission in life is to inform and to impart information here’s a news flash: In life there are trends, likelihoods, and probabilities.
If you live a life long enough rest assured that history will repeat itself when a certain situation rears its ugly head.
Being able to call out what’s to come isn’t so difficult if you pay attention and take notes.
Back in April, I said with an air of self confidence that this would be a long season for the Texas Rangers based on the level of injuries and new faces in the mix for 2014.
To be able to count the extent and the depth of the number of injuries this team has suffered. To the point that you have a bunch of kids playing in the majors who would still be in Double A and Triple A under normal circumstances.
It also appeared very plausible and probable to this writer that there was a good chance the day would come where that other team in Texas-one I have now been covering since the move to the American League in 2013-would get the chance to leapfrog the kids from Arlington three years removed from a World Series appearance and being one strike away from a title. Twice in Game 6!
That happened on this night.
Earlier in the day the plan was to chill after a productive workday and catch a little baseball on the iPad while updating the blogs. I was sent an email from friend Karen Lucchesi. No stranger to baseball as her Dad is the one and only Frank Lucchesi. One time Rangers skipper in 1976 and 1977 before the Lenny Randle incident.
‘Whatcha doing today Mr. Will?’
‘I got an extra ticket for the Rangers-Astros. In the Suites. Interested?’
97 degree day and a key matchup with Dallas Keuchel and Yu Darvish on the mound for the Astros and Rangers. If the Astros won then the Rangers would hit the cellar. If the Rangers won the cellar would be avoided and being mired in fourth place for the 24th day since June 3 seemed less painful.
These eyes saw a team tearing apart at the seams. While Adrian Beltre, Alex Rios, and Elvis Andrus have had successful seasons in 2014, pitching has been the bugaboo for Ron Washington and company. Unfortunately the pitching has left a lot to be desired. Too many stints where the starter barely makes it into the third inning while a Scott Baker or Shawn Tolleson or Aaron Poreda is asked to work the bulk of middle innings to keep the bullpen from wearing down.
This night I saw a little body language that said to me this season is a lost cause for the Texas Rangers and Ron Washington. Calls for Wash to get the ax will now start to gather steam due to the precipitous fall suffered since middle June when the Rangers were only seven games back. In the space of 22 days the Rangers have fallen 12 games in the standings and are on a 3-17 run.
Yu Darvish was on the mound with an early lead in Wednesday night’s game ahead 1-0 only to see a lead disappear with some poor fielding and a wild pitch allowed by Darvish. This was nowhere near the guy America and the world almost witness a perfect game and no hitter on two occasions over Bo Porter and the Astros in 2013.
Remember too that Texas had a 17-2 record on the Astros in 2013. The Astros of 2014 have already improved by leaps and bounds and have a lineup that is getting better by the day with Jose Altuve, George Springer, Jason Castro, Robbie Grossman, Jon Singleton, Matt Dominguez, Chris Carter, and LJ Hoes knowing their roles when batting.
I watched a fly ball hit to left field in the second inning get completely misplayed by Shin-Soo Choo as a runner got to second and a run scored. The look on Yu’s face said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He looked visibly upset while chatting with Mike Maddux and Robinson Chirinos.
A wild pitch happened moments later to give Houston a 2-1 lead. All of a sudden Yu resembled anything but an ace. This marked the fifth straight start where his mechanics were off and his throwing was less than stellar. This despite an eight strikeout performance in six innings of work.
Needless errors by Daniel Robertson also didn’t help the Texas cause. Two to be precise. This flies in the face of pitching and defense for Ron Washington.
Darvish allowed game tying and go-ahead runs to score courtesy of a two run blast by Robbie Grossman (who had a 4-hit night batting in the two hole) and a two run double by Carlos Corporan. That erased a 4-2 deficit for the Astros. Jason Frasor allowed a two run blast in the seventh to George Springer for an 8-4 deficit and final score.
The Astros completed the rarest of three game sweeps in Arlington improving to 39-54 while Texas fell to 38-53. Houston in 2013 did not get win #39 until August 13th. Coming into the All-Star Break the second half of the season will be gravy for Bo Porters young crew as one can draw conclusions to the Rangers of 2007.
The last time Texas was this bad at this point in a calendar year? 2003. The year they were 2-19 in interleague play under Buck Showalter.
Injuries and poor pitching and unfamiliar names notwithstanding, this Rangers team now resembles the proverbial deer looking into the headlights. Even if a team is in struggle yet continues to show effort you applaud the effort and look past the losses.
If it looks like a team has given up, is mailing it in, acting like a team ready to lose, making stupid mistakes then the whispers and murmurs will soon get loud enough to create a buzz. One where a change needs to be made.
The Astros outscored the Rangers in a three game set 28-14. Proof that Texas indeed is a football town. Texas looks lost and disheveled. The possibility that Team Wash loses 100 games is very real. To now have to play the hottest team in the A.L. with a 22-8 mark since June 8th while your team has gone 3-19…
Now the Angels of Los Angeles by way of Anaheim are in town. If the Rangers do not turn things around I fully expect Ron Washington to be shown the door after seven plus interesting years as Rangers skipper. All in the name of making a change.
Let’s go back even further. Back in 2007 Jon Daniels also hits on a very hot seat. Remember that blockbuster trade he pulled off when trading the likes of Ron Mahay, Mark Teixeira, and some draft picks for Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus, Jerrod Saltalamacchia, and two other prospects?
Look for JD to do it again on July 31st after the Yankees have left town. The housecleaning is as good as a foregone conclusion. Alex Rios. Elvis Andrus will look great playing in the Bronx. Adrian Beltre will probably go back to Los Angeles. Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria may also join the shuttle ride to elsewhere.
Baseball is a funny game. Joe Garagiola said as much a half century ago. Sometimes all the bounces go your way and the wins shall accompany. The problem with winning and success makes fans want to believe that its an entitlement train. ‘We made the World Series last year. We’ll go back this year!’
Even the Yankees are that consistent. The idea of repeating-just like in the NFL-is tough and rare.
While a part of me is very happy with the upward resurgence of the team south of here finally avoiding the triple digit mark in defeats for this season-a 75 win season is very plausible-we know begin to mark time as in how long before the white towel of surrender is waved and the Texas Rangers go in a different direction?
That day is coming. Sooner than later sadly. It’s as evident as the body language displayed on your ace’s face. Even in a lost season that is tough to watch. You can lose, but you can never quit or stop trying.
That’s how baseball go! My thanks to the Lucchesi family for the hospitality and generosity. Let’s do this again soon.