May 2011

That’s Why They Play The Games: Rangers Take 2 of 3 From Royals

Everything evens out in the end, at least it should. That’s what we tell ourselves when we lose a game we should have won. Somewhere along the line, we’ll win a game we should have lost and it’ll all even out.

Seldom does this happen in the course of one series, but it did this past weekend in Arlington.  In the first of the three game set, the Rangers lost a long extra inning affair to the Royals in a game that should have been won but for the Texas closer coughing up the one run lead in the 9th (more in a moment on that). Game two was a laugher in the Rangers favor. Then came Game 3 on Sunday, a game which the Royals should have won but for their closer coughing up the one run lead (and the game) in the 9th.

In the end, Texas took two of three, which is about what most would expect considering the two teams involved. Still, it was anything but an expected weekend for the Rangers fans.

Game 1 Royals 12 Rangers 7 (14 innings): An incredibly strange game in every sense of the word. Colby Lewis, who’d been on a roll of late, just didn’t have it early, coughing up six runs in the first two innings to KC. Not to be outdone, Royals starter Nathan Adcock gave up five in the first and two in the second, giving the Rangers a 7-6 lead after two innings of play. Then, nothing. Lewis settled down and pitched four more scoreless innings before his night was done. Adcock was replaced after getting two outs in the 3rd. Royals relievers proceeded to allow Texas only four hits from that point on. Still, the 7-6 lead was holding up. Neftali Feliz came on in the 9th, gave up a one out solo shot to Alex Gordon and we’re on to extra innings. It stayed tied at 7 until the 14th, when long man Dave Bush was summoned from the bullpen, the last Rangers pitcher available. KC then launched three long balls, plating five runs and a game Texas should have won turned into a loss.

Game 2 Rangers 10, Royals 1: A laugher all the way. Texas scored early and often off Royals starter Sean O’Sullivan. Since the Royals had also used all their pitchers the night before, O’Sullivan was asked to eat up innings, even though he clearly had nothing. O’Sullivan complied. His stuff was such that I think even I could’ve hit him and I haven’t picked up a bat in at least a decade, nor could I hit very well back when I did pick up a bat! It was good to see Nelson Cruz get off the schneid. Cruz had three hits, including a home run. Cruz’ average had been getting perilously close to the dreaded Mendoza line. Every Ranger ended up scoring at least one run and Michael Young was the only Ranger without a hit on the day.

Game 3 Rangers 7, Royals 6: What Texas gave away on Friday, they took away on Sunday. It was looking like the Royals day. Alexi Ogando had a rare off day, giving up a 5-spot in the 4th, three on a Brayan Pena home run. Thank goodness we’re done with the Royals for the year. Pena had three three run homers in eight games against Texas this year. It looked like it was headed to a 5-3 Royals win when Michael Young, who never swings at a 3-0 pitch, decided to do so in the 8th and hit a 2-run homer to right to tie the game at 5. Without a save on the line, Texas brought Neftali Feliz in for the 9th. A double, and error and a sac fly later, the Royals were back on top 6-5. Royals closer Joaquin Soria came on in the 9th. Soria has had even more problems than Feliz in 2011 and he immediately gave up a lead-off homer to Nelson Cruz, tying things up again at 6. Mike Napoli followed with a single. After Mitch Moreland and David Murphy struck out, Elvis Andrus lined a single down the right field line. Napoli was moving on the play. Elvis probably should have gone for a double but decided to stay put on first. Also, inexplicably, 3rd base coach Dave Anderson told Napoli to go for it. The throw to the plate beat Napoli by a mile. Except Napoli scored.  Catcher Brayan Pena didn’t block the plate and didn’t put the tag on Napoli until after his leg had touched the plate. Rangers win!

So we lost one we should’ve won and won one we should’ve lost. It all evens out in the end.

Neftali Feliz, I’m sure, is ecstatic he doesn’t have to face the Royals anymore this year. Here’s his line vs. KC this year:

Saves   0   Blown Saves 3   ERA 3.86   WHIP 2.143

Neftali Feliz vs. everyone else

Saves 10   Blown Saves  0  ERA 0.64  WHIP  1.14

There’s more to it than just Feliz facing the Royals. It’s been stated on this page more than once that something about Feliz just doesn’t look right right now. Feliz says it’s an issue of mechanics and he’s getting it straightened out. He needs to get it straightened out this week. The next seven days see the Rangers on the road in Tampa Bay and Cleveland, two of the best the AL has to offer this year. While Texas draws the Rays and Indians, the Angels get the Royals on the road and Yankees at home; Oakland gets the Yankees at home and the Red Sox on the road; while the surprising Mariners are at home all week against the Orioles and Rays. In the tight AL West Texas could easily fall out of first place this week.

Let’s win the ones we should win and win at least one we should lose too!

What Can Go Wrong? Never Ask That Question!

Everything about this weekend screams “Rangers Sweep!” or, at least, “Rangers Take 2 of 3″. The Royals are in town for three, they’re on a 5-game losing streak and do not have any starting pitchers that strike fear in your heart. Texas even avoids having to face Luke Hochever who, for some inexplicable reason, handles the defending AL Champions well while struggling against just about everyone else. Meanwhile, the good guys have Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back and all three starting pitchers: Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando, have been on rolls lately. Oh, yeah, they’re also playing at home, where the Rangers are 17-10, while the Royals have a dismal road record of 5-14. 

Still, it would be wrong to ask what could go wrong because this writer is a firm believer in Murphy’s Law (and I’m not talking David Murphy here). No matter what records look like, the fact is most baseball teams are more evenly matched than one might think. A couple of inches to the left on a batted ball or a tenth of a second on a throw to the plate can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Here’s how far I’ll go: Things look favorable for the Rangers this weekend and I hope the next three games play out the way it looks like they should.

Among the faithful here in the Lone Star State, it’s easy to see how this weekend’s series is not filling anyone with dread. The main topic of conversation has nothing to do with the Rangers’ upcoming opponent. Rather, the unceremonious dumping of TV play by play announcer John Rhadigan is what has tongues wagging.

Rhadigan was a surprise choice to replace Josh Lewin in the broadcast booth. Rads has worked for Fox Sports for years and anchored pre and post-game Rangers coverage, but he had no prior baseball play by play experience when he was hired. Listening to his calling of games was painful at times. He seemed to have a hard time following the ball off the bat from the broadcast booth. Some rules of the game seemed to elude him. And even a single was treated so over-entusiastically, you’d think Texas had just won on a walk-off. In short, Rhadigan, though by all accounts one of the nicest guys in the business, was just not a good fit for the job. Just 49 games into a 2 year contract, Rangers brass decided to cut their losses and demote Rhadigan back to pre and post game, replacing him with Dave Barnett, who had been the #2 man in the radio booth.

Being a former sportscaster myself, I feel bad for the guy, knowing how tough a gig it is, especially with no experience. The fan in me is relieved not to have to hear him anymore.

Another Random Thought: Thursday was an off day for the Rangers after playing a day game on Wednesday. It almost feels like this has been the All-Star Break. With no games to watch two nights in a row in the middle of baseball season seems unnatural. Adding insult to injury, the May sweeps are over on network TV, so there were no new shows worth watching last night. I barely knew what to do with myself!

The weekend is here. New play by play guy. Three winnable games ahead. What can go wrong?

Dang. I said it.

Stop The Presses! Rangers Win Series! Rangers 2, White Sox 1

A win is a win is a win, but my heart should could use one with a little more breathing room.

With Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the White Sox, the Rangers clinched only their second series victories in the last ten they’ve played (2 series wins, 2 series ties, 6 series losses). Having the series clinching win come down to the tying run on second and the winning run on first in the top of the 9th with a still-struggling Neftali Feliz had the defibrillator standing by and the nails bit down to the bone.

Even with Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back, Texas managed a paltry three hits against Gavin Floyd. Fortunately, two of them came in the 3rd inning, which helped the Rangers plate their only runs of the game. This is only the second time in the history of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington that the Rangers have won a game with three hits or less. The first time was Ron Washington‘s first win as Rangers manager in 2007.  CJ Wilson was brilliant, giving up a lead-off single to Juan Pierre, then setting down 16 in a row. The Sox finally chased Wilson in the 7th, but thanks to the bullpen work of Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver and Feliz (shaky as they all were at times), all the Sox could muster was a single run.

Interesting tidbit: Until having an oh-fer Wednesday, guess who had the longest active AL hitting streak entering play? Josh Hamilton at 10 games. Granted there was a 30+ game absence between games 8 and 9, but it was a hitting streak nonetheless.

I’m actually just glad both teams escaped Tuesday’s game in one piece. In the bottom of the 4th, the storms came to Arlington and, over the next couple of hours, pelted the Ballpark with golf ball size hail and heavy winds. The two teams didn’t finish up the 8-6 Chicago win until after one in the morning, then they turned around and played again twelve hours later. This probably explains the low hit totals for both teams in the series finale.

Interesting Tidbit 2: The Fort Worth Star Telegram and TR Sullivan are both reporting Brandon Webb is headed to Frisco for a rehab start on Monday. Webb pitched an extended session in extended training down in Arizona the other day and, although his velocity reportedly was still only in the mid-80′s, he induced a lot of ground ball outs and managed quite a few K’s against members of the Padres organization. Maybe this team is starting to get healthy again!

An off day has finally arrived for the Rangers before KC comes to town for three.

By the way, for those joining in because of the mention on the MLBlogs Community page, welcome. Feel free to comment, subscribe, send suggestions, etc.!

Immediate Dividends: Rangers 4, White Sox 0

 

I’m afraid I put the wrong picture into yesterday’s post. I portrayed Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz as Mighty Mouse. After seeing each of them hit a home run and accounting for three of the four Ranger runs in last night’s win, I realize now who Hamilton and Cruz are: The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers! Welcome back, Josh and Nelly!

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers

 

And how ’bout those back to back shutouts from Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando? Things are finally looking up in Rangers Land!

Here We Come To Save The Day! Rangers Lose 2 of 3 to Phils

Yes, the Phils top three starting pitchers are great. They are.  Still, the Rangers meager 4 runs scored in the three-game set at Philly is not only a testament to the triumvirate of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, it is also indicative of how much the Rangers offense is in need of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz.

Here They Come To Save The Day!

The good news is both Hamilton and Cruz return Monday night to the Rangers line-up. The bad news is Hamilton will be spending his first few days active as the team’s DH. This means Michael Young will be unseating regulars in the field for probably the next week or so.

Expect Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland and possibly Adrian Beltre to be on the bench for at least one game each. Best guess here is Kinsler will sit out three of the next six games for Young, Moreland two and Beltre one. It makes sense to give Kinsler some time off as he’s been slumping badly. Moreland deserves the playing time but will be forced to a part-time role with Hamilton as DH. The Rangers are so looking for options that Young is starting to learn how to judge fly balls in the outfield, though there are no immediate plans to put him out there.

Texas finished the road trip at 3-4, pretty good when considering they only hit one home run in the entire road trip. Even in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Philly, the R offense was about as exciting as a one hour sermon by a bad preacher. At least one of the runs came on an actual base hit with a runner in scoring position. I think that was the only one they had in their four runs of the series (others came on a double steal, a squeeze bunt and a groundout).

It’s hard to tell from the record, but Rangers starting pitchers have been on a roll, giving up less than four runs in eleven consecutive starts, two off the team record set in 1996. Were it not for failures by the bullpen, this easily could have been a 5-2 road trip instead of 3-4.

Two players will have to go to make way for Hamilton and Cruz. Craig Gentry is a pretty sure bet to go back to Round Rock. The question is will the second player be Endy Chavez, who has played well before tweaking a hamstring himself, back-up infielder Chris Davis, who has also played well but is in a crowded situation, or third string catcher Taylor Teagarden, who has barely played since his latest recall but remains insurance in case Yorvit Torrealba or Mike Napoli have to leave a game? Chavez may go on the DL to buy the Rangers a little more time on the final decision. On merit alone, my pick would be to send Teagarden back down. The smartest move, though, would probably be to send Davis back down, even though he’s played well.

Here’s some more food for thought: Texas has gone 15-21 since Hamilton went on the DL, 7-9 with both Hamilton and Cruz disabled. Yet they welcome their two big guns back still in the same position they were in when they left: first place in the AL West. Maybe this is a weak division, but the return of the Mighty Rangers to a team already in first place can’t help but be a good sign.

With a homestand against the White Sox and Royals here, and Hamilton and Cruz in the line-up, now would be a good time to start on another hot streak.

How ‘Bout Them Hamstrings? Rangers, Royals Split

While the continuing hot topic of discussion amongst Rangers fans is “What’s wrong with Neftali Feliz?” (more on that later), coming in a close second has got to be “Hamstring-Gate”.

The dreaded hamstring tightness struck yet another Texas Rangers outfielder in Thursday’s series finale against the Royals, this time in the person of Endy Chavez, forcing the Rangers to use Andres Blanco in right field, a utility infielder who had never played the outfield in 10 years of professional baseball.

This brings to three the number of outfielders currently on the shelf due to hamstrings- Chavez, Julio Borbon and Nelson Cruz. Cruz was supposed to be back Friday for the series with the Phillies. Just yesterday, though, the Rangers announced he would play three weekend games at AAA Round Rock this weekend because his swing still wasn’t where they’d like it to be. Certainly, one would want Cruz to be successful hitting, but now they may have to bring him back for the Phillies series just because, of all the hamstrings available, his are in the best shape, relatively speaking. Josh Hamilton is the only outfielder on the DL without a hamstring problem, but with a nickname of “Hambone”, he qualifies as an honorary member of the hamstring brigade.

Meanwhile, Neftali Feliz who, it was pointed out here on my last post, just is not looking right on the mound. For the second consecutive night, he blew a save. The defending AL Rookie of the Year with the blazing fastball has not been inducing too many swings and misses the last two games. Thursday night, his pitch count got into the 30′s before Ron Washington pulled him with the bases loaded. Mark Lowe got him out of the jam, but the ensuing Rangers relievers gave up the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th to hand KC the win. Such a shame.

Derek Holland pitched a whale of a game to have it come to naught. Plenty of blame to the Texas offense as well, for mustering a measly six hits and plating their only run on a Chris Davis 2nd inning solo shot. Texas only managed mutliple base runners in one inning the entire game.

Had they won the game, Texas would be heading into Philadelphia tonight needing only one win on the weekend to secure a winning road trip. To do it now will require winning two of three while facing Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, a daunting task especially considering the current offensive woes.

 As to the outfield alignment for Friday’s opener? For all I know, third string catcher Taylor Teagarden could find himself out there if the Rangers think his hammy can take it.

Running From The Grand Ennui: Rangers, White Sox Split

Today’s headline was the title of a post-Monkees Mike Nesmith song. At the quarter pole of the 2011 season, it seems apropos, not only in gauging the Rangers play thus far this season, but also assessing many of us who write about our favorite Texas team on a regular basis.

We as fans get spoiled very easily. A year ago, we who have suffered with this team through way more thin than thick were getting truly excited for the first time in a very long time. The Rangers were starting to get into a groove and things were starting to look up. Now, a year later, Texas is tied for first place despite being without Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz for an extended period of time, Neftali Feliz for two weeks, and now with Julio Borbon down for a couple weeks as well. Still, one World Series appearance has already gotten us spoiled and blase about things. How else to explain how many of my fellow Rangers bloggers (and I include me among them) have slowed our contributions to the blogosphere?

To be sure, mine was a bit calculated. At my age, it gets a little harder to write about the Rangers on a daily basis when my actual paying gig has to take precedence. Thus, I made the conscious decision to maybe only do a post after every series this year instead of every game. I can’t help but notice, however, that several other of my Rangers brethren have also slowed down their efforts considerably here in the 2011 season. I’m not giving them a hard time. Their lives may be just as complicated and/or busy as mine. Maybe, though, just maybe we all are also suffering a bit from post-World Series malaise. Now that we’ve tasted how sweet being in the World Series is, it makes us more indifferent to our team when they are playing at the less than masterful level they are currently at. 

Just as the Rangers have to battle their way out of the mediocrity they’re in (getting Cruz back this weekend could be a good start), I will attempt to do the same and hope my fellow Rangers bloggers can stage comebacks of their own because, after all, who DOESN’T want to learn more about the Rangers? :-)

The road trip started with a GREAT pitching performance from Colby Lewis, who notched his first career MLB shutout with a five-hit gem in the series opener. Endy Chavez, who looked so overmatched in his first two games with the Rangers, looked the opposite in two games against the White Sox, with two multiple hit games, a couple doubles, a bunt single, a steal or two and a walk or two as well.

Still, as good as Lewis was Monday, the Rangers threw away their chance at getting the sweep Tuesday. Staked to a 3-0 lead, the Rangers squandered scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity. After making Jonathon Danks throw  60+ pitches in the first two innings, they spent the next five innings only making throw 40+. Matt Harrison pitched a pretty solid game for Texas Tuesday, but one mistake resulted in a 3-run game tying homer. The much maligned Texas bullpen did the rest, with Cody Eppley continuing his disturbing trend of following up a good game with a bad one. Eppley’s 8th inning wild pitch plated the go-ahead run, ending the Rangers night in a first place tie with the Oakland A’s.

Two games with the Royals starting tonight. With Alexi Ogando on the mound tonight, I can’t help but feel good about our chances.

Who Are These Guys? Rangers Take 2 of 3 From Angels

Here’s something that hasn’t happened in awhile. The team that vaguely resembles the Texas Rangers won their first series since all the way back Easter weekend, with Sunday’s 5-4 win clinching a 2-1 series win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

 I say “vaguely resembles the Texas Rangers” because, thanks to a hamstring strain by Julio Borbon, the entire starting outfield from Opening Day is now on the disabled list for Texas. Add in the constantly fluctuating members of the Texas bullpen and this team is currently a shell of the 2010 AL Champions.

 And yet, here we are, on May 16th, looking at a team only 1/2 game out of first place. I’m sorry, but for all the flak Ron Washington takes from Rangers fans about his shortcomings when it comes to in-game management, the man deserves all the credit in the world for keeping this team in the thick of things despite missing two All-Star outfielders (one the defending league MVP), one 13-game winner from a year ago (Tommy Hunter), the 7th inning set-up guy on the DL, the 8th inning set-up guy a starter by necessity and a closer who’s already had one stint on the DL and still doesn’t look like he’s feeling quite right. Oh, and despite a 4-4 Sunday, All-Star Ian Kinsler hasn’t been hitting well and All-Star Elvis Andrus hasn’t been fielding well. Plus your top two starting pitchers have only performed average at best.

 This would be the equivalent of the Yankees going without Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira for a significant amount of time while also dealing with Mariano Rivera on the DL and throw in Jorge Posada not hitting well (OK that one’s true), Phil Hughes on the DL (OK that’s true as well). Still, you can see the point. Even a team with the reputation of the Yankees would have a hard time if ALL of those things were happening at once. Say what you will about the inherent weakness of the other AL West teams, ANY team dealing with the injury issues the Rangers have been facing would be hard-pressed to play at a level that keeps them from falling too far behind in the race. The Rangers are doing just that and Ron Washington has to be given credit for keeping his team together in the face of adversity.

 Hits: Another great Alexi Ogando start Friday, in which Ogando outduelled one of the AL’s best pitchers in Jared Weaver.

         Adrian Beltre is starting to heat up again. Two homers in the three game set.

         Chris Davis has contributed more in three weeks than he may have contributed in all of 2010, including a solo home run and the 8th-inning tie-breaking single that won the game on Sunday.

         Rookie Cody Eppley came through in his first real high-pressure situation in Friday night’s win.

         Derek Holland may have had his best outing of the year in Saturday’s loss to the Angels. Dutch went six strong giving up only two runs. I said it before the season and I’ll say it again: How Holland does this year is one of the keys to Texas successfully defending the AL West title. If he keeps getting better, it’ll be hard to keep the Rangers from repeating.

 Misses: As good a story as he is for getting back to the majors after a multi-year rehab from a shattered knee, Endy Chavez looked overmatched in his first two games in a Rangers uniform. Chavez was hitting .316 when recalled from Round Rock to replace Julio Borbon, but went 0-8 in his first two games and looked even worse than the line.

            Darren Oliver dropped to 1-4 when he gave up the winning run in the 8th in Saturday’s 3-2 loss. Oliver and Arthur Rhodes just can’t be asked to pitch in back to back games anymore at their ages. Unfortunately, with the state of the Rangers bullpen, it’s a necessary evil.

 Staying Alive At The Plate: Help is getting closer. On Friday, Josh Hamilton took his first batting practice since going on the DL. He could begin a rehab assignment in Frisco this week.

           Nelson Cruz is also in line to start a rehab assignment in Frisco. Unlike Hamilton, Cruz is expected to be available for the series with the Phillies this weekend. 

           Remember Scott Feldman? 2009′s 17-game winner, coming off microfracture knee surgery, pitched in a rehab assignment over the weekend in Frisco and passed with flying colors, allowing one run on two hits in five innings of work. As good as Alexi Ogando has been as a starter, I think once Feldman or Hunter are ready, Ogando goes back to being the 8th inning guy the Rangers need. Either that or he becomes the long man/spot starter while either Dave Bush or Brett Tomko are released. It’ll be an interesting decision for GM Jon Daniels.

 On Deck: I would be remiss not to mention the American debut of Cuban outfield Leonys Martin. The center fielder signed a 5-year $15 million deal with the Rangers a couple weeks ago and was assigned to AA Frisco. In his first four games, Martin has two doubles and a home run, 6 RBI and two steals. It’s doubtful Martin will be anything more than a September call-up on the major league level, but he’s certainly putting Julio Borbon on notice that he needs to start producing consistently or he’ll soon be an ex-Ranger.

         The next seven are on the road- three in the Windy City against the Chisox, a notoriously streaky team in the midst of a hot streak right now. Then it’s two against the Royals, where Texas will get their first look at rookie phenom Eric Hosmer. The week ends with three games in Philadelphia, where they’ll face the guy they hoped would be pitching for them, Cliff Lee, in one of the games.

They may not closely resemble the team I started blogging about over a year ago, but it’s still the one I’m cheering for every night!

Rain Rain Go Away (For Just A Little While): Rangers, A’s Split 1-1

Some 30 years ago, I was the Sports Director at a small town western Nebraska radio station and actually received hate mail from a listener when I said I hoped the rain being forecast for the area would hold off just long enough for a scheduled high school track meet to take place. Said listener reminded me of the number of farmers in this agricultural community who were “on their knees praying for moisture” and how inappropriate my comments were. This despite the fact I didn’t say I didn’t want it to rain, just that it would hold off long enough for the meet to take place.

With that in mind, those of you who don’t live in the Lone Star State may not know how dry this state has been in 2011. Statewide burn bans have been in effect. Thousands of acres have caught fire. In a word, rain is desperately needed here.

Still, I couldn’t help but think yesterday how nice it would have been for the rain to hold off just long enough for the Rangers and A’s to get the game in. Hey, I’m praying for moisture as much as the next guy, but the fan in me can’t help but notice that we seemed to be getting into an offensive groove again and, with an off day on Thursday, something like this storm could bring the momentum to a quick halt.

Talk about frustrating. After a two week malaise, the Rangers finally got their bats back in a 7-2 win on Tuesday. They were rolling again Wednesday, riding Mitch Moreland’s grand slam to a 7-0 lead over the A’s after 3 innings. Then the rains came. And they didn’t go away. And they didn’t go away.

Many fans here are wondering why the game was called off, even though the water had been coming down steadily for over two hours when the game was called. Both teams are off on Thursday, so what would have been the harm in waiting the storm out?

My guess is, so much rain had already fallen the grounds crew couldn’t guarantee a playable field for awhile even after the rains stopped. And this team is banged up enough right now that it would be foolhardy to play with so many puddles in the outfield that might lead to more injuries.

And yet, I still wish they had held up just long enough…

I’d better stop. Even 30 years later, that angry farmer may still be around and want to write me another letter.

What Goes Around Comes Around: Yankees 2 Wins, Rangers 1 Win

I have to confess: I did something Sunday that I have never done while attending a Texas Rangers game: I left early.

Believe it or not, it had nothing to do with the final ugly score. I actually left while it the game was still within reach at 6-5, with the Yankees on top. No, I left because it was Mother’s Day and, after the game, we still had a three-hour drive ahead of us in order to have a Mother’s Day dinner with our Texas kids. As much as I love the Rangers, family still comes first!

Sunday’s series finale was a hot one with occasional breezes taking some of the edge off those of us sitting in the left field foul line seats. The game started out well, with a combination of CC Sabathia walks and horrid Yankees defense contributing to a 3 run first and, after two, the Rangers sported a 4-0 lead on the Bronx ace. Meanwhile, fill-in starter Dave Bush (oh, how I wanted to see Alexi Ogando pitching this game) surprised most Rangers fans with two quick efficient innings.

The Yankees bit back with two runs in the third and added another pair in the 5th, tying things up at 4. Texas brought in Arthur Rhodes in the 7th, who immediately gave up back to back jacks by Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson to make it a 6-4 Yankees lead. Jeter must have gotten some great Gatorade on Sunday. Coming into the game, he had no steals and three extra base hits all year (all doubles). Sunday, he stole his first base and jacked two out of the park. I’d say more nice things about him, but the guy three rows in front of me wearing the Jeter shirt keeps me from doing so. Said fan kept pointing to himself after both home runs, generally trying to take credit for it all like he hit the homers himself. Sorry, dude, your guy would’ve gotten more love from me if not for you!

I really thought we might have a comeback in us when Texas chased Sabathia with a run in the bottom of the 7th to make it 6-5. Joba Chamberlain came close to giving up home runs to Michael Young and Mike Napoli, but both were caught on the warning track. After the 7th, it quickly got ugly. Fortunately, I didn’t witness the carnage of the 8th.

When the smoke cleared, my second live game was a complete mirror of my first game of 2011. That one saw the Rangers beat the Red Sox 12-5. This one saw the Rangers lose 12-5. Texas had four home runs in the Red Sox win. The Yankees had four bombs in their win. Adrian Beltre had a grand slam in the Red Sox game, Francisco Cervelli had one in the Yankees game.

It was a shame, becase the Yankees really did not look that great in the field (4 errors and it probably should’ve been 5) or even on the mound, but that’s just how bad the Rangers are playing right now.

It would be easy to say the Rangers never should have brought Rhodes in to start the 7th. At 42, he’s not a pitcher you should be bringing in on back to back days, let alone when it’s a day game following a night game. Unfortunately, the Rangers bullpen is a mess these days, and there really wasn’t a good alternative.

Now, after Monday’s 7-2 loss to Oakland, the defending AL Champs find themselves a pedestrian 18-18 and in 3rd place in the AL West. This team is just not playing well right now. The hitters are pressing, the defense is pressing, the bullpen is failing and the starting pitching is inconsistent. To top it off, it was hopeful that Tommy Hunter was about ready to return to the Rangers, but then he tweaked his groin again on the final pitch of his rehab start at Round Rock Monday. Now it’s time for an MRI and it could be another month before he’s ready to return.

These are the times that try fans’ souls.

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