By Mark Miller
Since the only way the Texas Rangers could win last week was to hold their opponents scoreless, it was no wonder they had didn’t fare well.
While a near no-hitter by Yu Darvish and shutout ball by Matt Harrison and some relievers produced two victories, a lack of offense proved costly in the other five games. That left Texas with a 19-19 record and in fourth place in the American League West division, four full games behind the Oakland A’s.
The Rangers managed just 10 runs in their five losses while the Colorado Rockies and defending world champion Boston Red Sox answered with 42. No wonder the result was dropping three of four to Colorado (both in Denver and a split in Arlington) and two of three at home to Boston.
“We’re just not hitting on all cylinders,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told mlb.com. “We’re not pitching at the same time. We’re certainly not as consistent as we’re capable of being on the offensive side; that’s the way baseball flows.”
Despite the gloom, there were some offensive bright spots. Shortstop Elvis Andrus broke of his slump with 11 hits in 26 at-bats (.423 average) first baseman Prince Fielder did likewise with a home run, five runs batted in and a .304 average. In addition, designated hitter Mitch Moreland had five hits in seven at-bats (.714) and outfielder Michael Choice was 6-for-16 (.375).
On the mound, Darvish was the story as he pitched 6 2/3 innings of perfect ball and lost his no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning when David Ortiz singled between shortstop Elvis Andrus and rookie second baseman Rougned Odor playing in a left-handed shift. Had they been playing in normal positions, Odor likely catches the ball. Had right-fielder Alex Rios called off Odor when a fly ball by Ortiz dropped between them in the seventh inning, Darvish might have had a perfect game.
And if the Rangers hitters put more early pressure on their opponents, the whole week might have ended differently.
Astros, Blue Jays on Tap
The Rangers leave home but not Texas this week as they are in Houston for three games, then home to Toronto for the same.
Houston continues to struggle with a 12-26 record entering the week after losing two of three in Baltimore. The Rangers beat the Astros in two of three games at Globe Life Park in Arlington in April and hope to do at least the same in their first trip to Minute Maid Field this season.
Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez is the only Astro batting above .300 with .314 in just 35 at-bats in 2014. Of the regulars, second baseman Jose Altuve is best with a .288 average. third baseman Matt Dominguez, catcher Jason Castro and first baseman Chris Carter tied with five home runs and Castro tops in runs batted in with 17.
On the mound, starter Dallas Keuchel leads with three wins and former Ranger Scott Feldman has the best earned run average at 1.93 after returning from the disabled list May 9.
The Blue Jays began the week at 18-20 after being swept at home by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Offensively, outfielder Melky Cabrera leads regulars a .333 average while outfielders Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus have nine homers while third baseman Edwin Encarnacion has 27 runs batted in.
Pitching-wise, Mark Buehrle has been the starting ace with a 6-1 record and 1.91 ERA. Unfortunately no other starters have won more than three games and relievers have been inconsistent at best with no clear closer. They the team has recently activated closer Casey Janssen.
5/12 @Astros 7:10 p.m.
5/13 @Astros 7:10 p.m.
5/14 @Astros 7:10 p.m.
5/16 vs Blue Jays 7:05 p.m.
5/17 vs Blue Jays 7:05 p.m.
5/18 vs Blue Jays 2:05 p.m.