By Mark Miller
From the manager to the coaches to the players, the Texas Rangers knew they didn’t come out of the All-Star break the way they wanted.
Errors and indecisiveness in the field and on the basepaths, lack of hitting when it counted and inconsistent starting pitching all contributed to being swept at home for only the second time all season. In losing three straight to Baltimore, the Rangers dropped their seventh game in eight contests including the last five to the Orioles, fell three games behind the Oakland A’s in the American League West division race and out of the Wild Card lead.
“Very uncharacteristic baseball,” manager Ron Washington said when asked to assess his team’s play. “Plays that we usually take pride in making we didn’t make and sometimes the game finds you in that position. But we’ll keep grinding.”
“We lost three games to a team I feel like we should beat,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler. “It’s not very characteristic of us, but we’ll see how we respond.”
The Rangers dropped the opener 3-1 even though Derek Holland pitched a strong game. Unfortunately the hitters were unable to do much with nine hits, going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They also lost a possible second run when Jeff Baker was caught off third base when third-base coach Gary Pettis gave him a late stop sign. Similar indecisiveness by Pettis cost the team another potential run Sunday.
In Saturday’s 7-4 loss, it was the struggles of starting pitcher Ross Wolf that hurt the most. Baltimore scored all seven runs on him before he registered seven outs but four relievers stopped further damage. The Rangers did manage 14 hits and four late runs, all too late to overcome the early deficit.
Sunday’s finale saw the Rangers make two errors, lose a double in the sun and the out on the bases. It also marked the 10th-straight game without a first-inning run and 82nd time all season. Texas has just 24 first-inning runs all season, nine less than any other club in the majors.
Rivera, Yankees in town this week
There’s always plenty of buzz when the New York Yankees come to town and there was supposed to be more than usual when the Bronx Bombers visit Arlington this week. That’s because former Ranger Alex Rodriquez was scheduled to come off the disabled list and make his 2013 debut Monday night.
Unfortunately for Rangers fans that will not happen as Rodriquez suffered a mild strain of his quadriceps during his rehab assignment with Class AAA Scranton. He is not expected to travel with the team.
Rodriguez was to face Yu Darvish, the Texas ace who also will be returning to the starting rotation after missing one turn while on the 15-day disabled list. If everything holds well, the Rangers will get another starting pitcher back the next night as Alexi Ogando is slated to be on the mound for the first time since June 6.
The four-game series with be the Yankees’ only trip to Texas this year and the last chance for fans to see legendary reliever Mariano Rivera, the All-Star Game most valuable player who is retiring after the season. The Yankees have a 52-46 record, seven games behind Boston in the American League East.
Rivera is one of the few New York stars to stay healthy this year as shortstop Derek Jeter, first baseman Mark Teixeira, center fielder Curtis Granderson and third baseman Kevin Youkilis have spent most of the year on the disabled list. The one major hitter to stay healthy has been second baseman Robinson Cano who leads the Yankees with a .306 batting average, 21 home runs and 69 runs batted in.
After finishing with the Yankees, the Rangers travel to Cleveland for a weekend series. The Indians won Sunday to raise their record to 52-46, just 1.5 games behind Detroit in the American League Central. This will be the only time Texas is in Ohio this year after Cleveland won two of three games in Arlington in June.
The Indians have been led on offense by All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis with a .303 batting average, 15 home runs and 62 runs batted in. On the mound, Justin Masterson is 11-7 with a 3.60 earned run average and 145 strikeouts in 142 innings.
7/22 Yankees 6:05 p.m.
7/23 Yankees 7:05 p.m.
7/24 Yankees 7:05 p.m.
7/25 Yankees 1:05 p.m.
7/26 @Indians 6:05 p.m.
7/27 @Indians 6:05 p.m.
7/28 @Indians 12:05 p.m.