Results tagged ‘ Joe Nathan ’

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 26

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 7-0

Overall: 91-71  (2nd Place AL West) (-5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Craig Gentry  .391/.462/.435, 1 Double, 3 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases

Alex Rios .346/.357/.654  3 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 8 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .200/.333/.200

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Texas Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Joe Nathan/Robbie Ross/Tanner Scheppers/Joakim Soria/Jason Frasor):  22 Games, 5-0 with 3 Saves, 20.2 Innings Pitched, 10 Hits, 1 Run, 7 Walks, 27 Strikeouts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Alexi Ogando  3 Runs, 8 Hits Allowed in 5.1 Innings Pitched

The Texas Rangers have not qualified for the post-season, but thanks to an incredible last week of the season, they are guaranteed a 163rd game.

Say what you will about Texas getting to stay home the entire last week of the season to face the only two teams they dominated all season, they still needed every one of the seven straight wins they put together on the week to qualify for even this 163rd game. The Monday night match-up with the Tampa Bay Rays is not officially a play-off game, it’s actually a regular season game, with all stats counting towards the regular season total. Win tonight and THEN the Rangers can say they’ve made the post-season for the 4th year in a row.

Even with a 7-0 week, the Rangers weren’t the hottest team in the American League. That honor went to the Wild Card bound Cleveland Indians, who will take on the winner of tonight’s Texas-Tampa Bay game on Wednesday while riding a 9 game winning streak. The Indians dominated their week against the two lowest-ranked teams in the AL Central and Minnesota in particular seemed to just roll over against the hot Tribe. By the way, I want to meet the guy who could have said with certainty four months ago that the Indians would make the playoffs sporting a rotation that included Ubaldo Jiminez and Scott Kazmir.

Thanks to the Rays dropping two of their three games with the Blue Jays, the Rangers get to play the Rays tonight with rookie Martin Perez getting the start against David Price. The game will see the return of Nelson Cruz, who has now finished serving his 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension. Cruz will likely be the DH against the Rays. If Texas loses tonight, Cruz will be back for one game and then possibly no longer be a Ranger, as he heads into free agency after the season.

Seven days ago, I didn’t think I’d have anything more to write about in terms of play on the field after today’s wrap-up of the week. I am happy to say I will have more to write, at least for another day.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 23

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 2-4

Overall: 81-61  (2nd Place AL West) (-1.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Elvis Andrus   .462/.429/.769  1 Double, 1 Home Run, 4 RBI and 2 Stolen Bases

Alex Rios  .429/.500/.952  2 Doubles, 3 Home Runs, 5 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Adrian Beltre  .130/.231/.130

Ian Kinsler  .214/.214/.286  0 Walks, 6 Strikeouts in 28 At Bats

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

7/10 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Alexi Ogando/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor/Tanner Scheppers/Neftali Feliz): 13 Games, 11.1 IP, 9 Hits, 0 Runs, 2 Walks, 8 Strikeouts  1-0 with 1 Save

Martin Perez  1-0, 1.29 ERA 1.14 WHIP, 5 Strikeouts in 7 Innings Pitched

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

3/5 of the Starting Rotation (Yu Darvish/Derek Holland/Matt Garza) 4 Games, 0-4 Record, 22.1 IP, 27 Hits, 17 Earned Runs (23 Total Runs), 12 Walks, 13 Strikeouts, 6 Home Runs Allowed


If there’s one thing we know about the Texas Rangers, they are a streaky team. 
After a torrid August, September is not going well. The offense is once again sputtering and this past week, the starting pitching decided to head south after a long streak of success. While it was not optimal for Texas to lose two of three to the front-running Oakland A’s to start the week, it wasn’t embarrassing either, as they were playing on the road in Oakland, where Texas has not played well the past few years. No, what was embarrassing was practically getting swept in Anaheim by the Angels, against whom Texas was 10-2 on the season entering the series. Only a late rally on Sunday kept the Angels from sending Texas 2 1/2 back of Oakland with only 20 games to go. Instead it stands at 1 1/2.

If there’s good news, it’s that the Rangers aren’t the only streaky team in the AL West. The A’s showed just last month they can go into funks of their own,as evidenced by the 10-game swing in the standings over a 3-week period in August. Still, three games ago Texas had their destiny in their hands with a 1/2 game lead. A week later and it’s Oakland that has the momentum in their favor. It doesn’t help that Oakland faces off with the lowly Minnesota Twins the first three days of the week while the Rangers square off at home against likely playoff-bound Pittsburgh. This series has me a little torn. I know the Rangers need to sweep this series to keep the heat on Oakland. On the other hand, I am so stoked for the Pirates and their fans that they are one win away from clinching their first over-.500 campaign in 21 years. I’m also a fan of Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who served as the Rangers’ hitting coach for the 2010 World Series team.

No matter how you slice it, Texas needs to follow up two consecutive 2-4 weeks with a 4-2 or 5-1 showing against Pittsburgh and Oakland. The weekend series with the A’s is the last regular season meeting between the two clubs. Anything worse than 2-1 against the A’s means a likely second place finish in the AL West.  Texas, it’s time to pull on your big boy pants.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 22

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall: 79-57  (1st Place AL West) (+1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Elvis Andrus   .421/.450/.474  1 Double, 4 RBI

Ian Kinsler .360/.385/.400  1 Double, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Jurickson Profar  .174/.240/.348  (But he did have a home run)

Leonys Martin  .174/.208/.304  (But he did have a home run and 5 RBI)

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

7/9 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Robbie Ross/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor/Tanner Scheppers/Neftali Feliz): 16 Games, 16 IP, 11 Hits, 0 Runs, 3 Walks, 19 Strikeouts  2-0 with 1 Save

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Travis Blackley  5.23 ERA  6 Earned Runs in 10.1 Innings Pitched


It was a wasted week. Again.
Once again the Rangers had a winning week at 4-2, but this time they lost a game and a half in the standings. Texas followed up a great road sweep of the Mariners only to come home and lay an egg in front of the home crowd against the lowly Minnesota Twins. Meanwhile, the second place A’s proved they’re up to the task of repeating as AL West champions by taking three out of four from the Detroit Tigers ON THE ROAD, then came home and swept the Wild Card-contending Tampa Bay Rays. Ron Washington is always quick to say his team can’t worry about what other teams are doing. If they take care of their own business, everything will be OK. Against the Twins, Texas didn’t take care of their own business.

Rangers Hall of Famer Jim Sundberg tweeted over the weekend that, with big series coming up, it’s natural for contending teams to look ahead a bit. I hope that’s the case because the Rangers and A’s are head to head the next three days and Texas needs to bring its A game (or A’s game, as it were). I stated last week it was important for Texas to go into September with a 4 game or more lead because the schedule this month favors the A’s. With a one game lead today instead of four you can officially label me as skeptical about my team winning the West in 2013. This week, it’s six games on the West Coast: three at Oakland followed by three games at Los Angeles. Oakland is at home all week against the Rangers and the Astros. Texas needs to take two of three against Oakland and, dare I say it, sweep the Angels. Anything less and this time next week I’ll probably be talking about the second place Rangers. I hate to talk about the second place Rangers.

On the positive side, welcome back Neftali Feliz! The man whose image is indelibly frozen in my brain when he struck A-Rod out looking to end the 2010 ALCS and send the Rangers to their first World Series returned to Texas Sunday after the long recovery from Tommy John surgery. Feliz threw two scoreless innings against the Twins. His velocity isn’t where it was a couple of years ago but he mixed his pitches well. I’ll pit the Rangers bullpen against just about any team in baseball. The offense is another question altogether,

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 21

Rangers primary logo

Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall: 75-55  (1st Place AL West) (+2.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .350/.480/.750    2 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 4 RBI, 5 Walks

Ian Kinsler .364/.400/.500  1 Home Run, 6 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Jurickson Profar  .188/.350/.313

Leonys Martin  .222/.391/.222

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

5/7 of the Rangers Bullpen (Neal Cotts/Robbie Ross/Joakim Soria/Joe Nathan/Jason Frasor): 11 Games, 11.2 IP, 5 Hits, 0 Runs, 2 Walks, 16 Strikeouts  2-0 with 1 Save

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Matt Garza  5.93 ERA  9 Earned Runs (10 Total) in 13.2 Innings Pitched


It was a wasted week. 
You might think that strange considering the Rangers had a winning week at 4-2 and went from a half game up in the standings to two and a half up on the second place Oakland A’s, but it was indeed a wasted week. Why? Because Texas should have a three and a half game lead entering play today. The Rangers pushed the lead to 3 1/2 after Friday’s win over the Chicago White Sox, then couldn’t win either Saturday or Sunday with Yu Darvish and Matt Garza on the mound. The A’s went 1-1 in that span against Baltimore. It was a prime opportunity for Texas to add some space and they blew it. The offense could only score four runs over the last two games of the week and Garza turned in another lackluster performance to boot.

Every game counts in this stretch because the strength of schedule favors Oakland in the September stretch drive. Now is the time Texas has to go into overdrive because the A’s are certainly going to make another push soon. The Rangers have to take advantage against the Mariners this week while the A’s have to contend with the Detroit Tigers on the road. It won’t be easy for the Rangers, as they have to face both Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the three game set, not to mention Rangers killer Kyle Seager, who has 11 doubles and four home runs against Texas this season. It doesn’t matter how difficult the chore, they have to take two of three at Seattle this week and follow it up by taking at least two of three at home against the Twins while the A’s host Tampa Bay. The lead is two and a half games now. It needs to increase to four or five games by Sunday. If it’s less than four, there’s still a very good chance the A’s will once again win the AL West. If it’s four games or more, the odds tip over to the Texas side of the ledger.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Weeks 16/17

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past two weeks that were in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous two weeks of play.

Rangers Record: 2-8

Overall: 56-49  (2nd Place AL West) (-6)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Elvis Andrus   .333/.415/.389   2 Doubles, 4 Walks, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .056/.128/.139   2 hits in 36 at bats with 11 strikeouts

Nelson Cruz  .171/.256/.343

Dishonorable Mentions: Adrian Beltre .225, A.J. Pierzynski .220, Leonys Martin .231 and Ian Kinsler .237

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Matt Garza  1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.68 WHIP

Neal Cotts  5 IP with 0 Hits Allowed

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Martin Perez  0-1, 10 Earned Runs in 9.1 Innings Pitched

Ross Wolf  0-1, 10 Earned Runs in 7 Innings Pitched

The wheels on the bus fall off and off. Just when the pitching staff returns to some semblance of order, the offense just totally falls off the map. While it was known the Texas offense would fall off with the departures of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, I don’t think anyone could have foretold the current state of the Rangers offense. Texas opened up the second half with a 7-game home stand and only managed to win two games, getting swept by the Orioles and splitting four against the equally offensively challenged New York Yankees. Hitting the road, the Rangers were swept in Cleveland for the first time in 33 years. It was no sin to get shut out by Justin Masterson on Saturday, but the Rangers followed that up by getting blanked by Ubaldo Jimenez Sunday, causing a post-game closed-door meeting in which Rangers manager Ron Washington reportedly held the floor for 40 minutes. The tongue-lashing was probably necessary, but it doesn’t bode well for a team when there are two of these closed-door meetings in a span of just six weeks. Something has happened to this team and it’s anyone’s guess what it is. Too many youngsters? A lack of leadership among the players? Players not holding each other accountable?

Adding insult to injury, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers was assaulted Thursday night (or early Friday morning depending on your definition) on the way back to the team hotel. Scheppers told police he was blindsided on the street for no reason. Witnesses say he lost a bar fight, one which he instigated himself. I don’t know the truth, but I DO know it’s NEVER a good thing when something happens to you at 2:30 in the morning. The odds are pretty good Scheppers (and reportedly Joe Nathan and A.J. Pierzynski) was at a bar and somebody didn’t take kindly to something.

Oh, yeah and now reports say the Rangers have shopped Joe Nathan around to see if it might bring something good in return. There’s no question the offense needs some help but would one bat be enough? It sure doesn’t look like it right now. The head honcho at one fan site went so far as to say maybe the Rangers should flip Garza after one start and start rebuilding for next year now. I can see a possible Nathan trade, since Joakim Soria could easily move into the closers role. Flipping Garza right after getting him would be equivalent to throwing in the towel on 2013 and I don’t think anyone in the Rangers organization is ready to do that yet.

If things are going to change for the Rangers, it has to start happening this week. The Rangers open with a three game home stand against the suddenly Albert Pujols-less Los Angeles Angels, followed by a single make-up game Thursday at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, then three on the road at Oakland against the first place A’s. Texas not only needs to get back into pennant contention, they’re also at the rear of the Wild Card race. Starting tonight, we’ll see if Wash’s tirade in Cleveland makes any difference.

Garzantuan? Garzilla vs. The Evil Empire? What Play On Words Will Work?

Cliff Lee July 10, 2010

IP            H             R             ER           BB           SO          HR          ERA

9              9              6              6              0              2              3              6.00

Ryan Dempster August 2, 2012

IP            H             R             ER           BB           SO          HR          ERA

4.2          9              8              8              3              6              2              15.42

Matt Garza July 24, 2013

IP            H             R             ER           BB           SO          HR          ERA

7.1          5              1              0              0              5              0              0.00

Guess which one of these three Rangers fans took to right away? Besides the obvious love of getting the win, besides the fact Garza gave up no earned runs, Matt Garza’s debut was notable in one other way. It was the first game since May 30th in which the Rangers pitching staff didn’t give up a walk, a span of 47 games.

Another noteworthy accomplishment: Ron Washington is known for assigning innings to his relievers. Closer Joe Nathan pitches the 9th inning beginning to end. Thus it was surprising to the Rangers faithful to see Wash go against the grain Wednesday night, keeping Neal Cotts in to face (and retire) the first two batters of the inning. Nathan was then brought on to get the third and final out of the inning and the game.

Matt Garza had an incredibly successful debut as a Ranger, the most successful since John Burkett tossed a shutout in his first Texas start in 1996. What does he get for an encore? A match-up against Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels Monday night. Should be fun.

Garza & Count

 

Gifts Both Good & Bad

Talk about being the gift-giving season. There were all kinds of gifts being handed out in Tuesday’s Rangers-Yankees game. The gifts at the end were the ones to be remembered the most, but they weren’t exclusive. Gift # 1 was given to the defensively challenged Nelson Cruz in the second inning of a scoreless game:

That was just one example of the great glovework on display by both teams in the game. Center fielder Craig Gentry also had a phenomenal catch for the Rangers, while Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner also had outstanding plays defensively in the game.

Those were fun gifts for any baseball fan. The 9th inning gifts, however, were hurtful and cost the Rangers the game. Clinging to a 4-3 lead, Joe Nathan came on to close the game out against the Yankees. After getting a strikeout on the first batter, Nathan walked Vernon Wells on five pitches. Some were close but called balls. With Wells on first, the ever dangerous Eduardo Nunez came to the plate, Nathan had a plan to pitch to Nunez. Unfortunately, home plate umpire Kerwin Danley decided this would be a good time to stop calling the low strike. With two clear strikes called balls, the count went to 3-2. Forced to elevate his pitches a little more to compensate for Danley’s new higher strike zone, Nathan got one high enough for Nunez to lace a game-tying triple to left-center. Brent Lillibridge would follow with a single that put the Yanks in the lead 5-4.

Adding insult to injury, the ageless Mariano Rivera came on to close out the game for the Yankees. Not that Rivera ever needs any help, but after the debacle of the Nunez at bat calls in the top of the 9th, the calls that went in Rivera’s favor with Leonys Martin at bat were enough to get even the biggest stroke zone apologist of them all, Rangers TV analyst Tom Grieve, to blatantly call out Danley for an inconsistent zone. Trust me when I say in most games, a pitch could show up on the Fox Tracker as a foot outside and Grieve will say itmay have been a borderline pitch.”

I don’t have the FoxTracker from the TV game last night, but the strike zone feature on the MLB At Bat app pretty much mirrored the Fox Tracker. Side by side, here are the Nunez at bat vs. Nathan and the Martin at bat vs. Rivera:

Nathan vs Rivera 7-23-13

Still, I like to give the benefit of the doubt. I know the pitch maps at the esteemed Brooks Baseball web site tend to be more realistic than both the TV FoxTracker and the MLB At Bat strike zones so I went there for the final decision. The Brooks Baseball maps seem to bear out the story. Nathan got hosed and Rivera got huge props:

Joe Nathan Strike Zone Chart 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

Joe Nathan Strike Zone Chart 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

Mariano Rivera Strike Zone 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

Mariano Rivera Strike Zone 7-23-13 (Brooksbaseball.net)

In the end, things in baseball tend to even out. Earlier this season, I wrote about a Rangers win over Tampa Bay that ended on an umpire’s gift to Nathan of a 3rd strike call, so I guess last night evened out. The Rangers also received a gift after the game was over, when the Houston Astros inexplicably came back from 1 run down in the 9th to score their first win in ten tries against the division leading Oakland A’s on a walk-off error. Thanks to that gift, Texas didn’t lose any ground to the A’s. Still, this loss stung, particularly since it had the feeling of an unearned win for New York. As Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington is fond of saying, “That’s the way baseball go.” Yep. And sometimes the way baseball go sucks.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 12

Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 6-1

Overall: 44-32  (1st Place AL West) (+1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Ian Kinsler  .407/.452/.407   6 RBI

Nelson Cruz  .379/.400/.724   3 HR   11 RBI

Leonys Martin .375/.423/.417   3 Steals

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Elvis Andrus  .136/.240/.136

Mitch Moreland  .091/.167/.182

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Neal Cotts  2-0, 0.00 ERA  5 K in 5.2 IP over 4 appearances

Joe Nathan 1.80 ERA 5 Saves in 5 Opportunities

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Yu Darvish  0-1, 6.00 ERA

Nick Tepesch  6.75 ERA in 2 Starts

The last two weeks the Texas Rangers sucked. This past week was a totally different story. One week ago today, the Rangers were coming off a 1-6 week and about to face the team three games ahead of them in the standings, followed by three on the road against the team with the best record in baseball. It was easy to envision ending the week as many as seven games back in the AL West.

Then, lo and behold, a miracle occured. Some might say it coincided with the return of Ian Kinsler to the line-up. Others could ascribe it to the tongue-lashing manager Ron Washington gave his club following their uninspired 4-game sweep at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. One, the other or both, something snapped, because the Rangers took three out of four from the A’s. The biggest surprise? The one loss was the game started by ace Yu Darvish. Texas followed it up by sweeping the Cardinals on the road (more on that in a separate post later today). Combined with Oakland’s losing two of three to the Mariners and the Rangers suddenly found themselves back on top of the AL West by a game at week’s end, a four game turnaround from the week before.

Kudos to one and all on the turnaround and putting us Rangers fans back into a good mood. Not that it gets any easier. After an off-day today, Texas has three games on the road against the Tankees (well, that’s the way the Bronx Bombers have been playing lately), followed by three at home against another of the NL Central’s elite, the Cincinnati Reds.  The A’s are at home all week, but they get two against the Reds and three versus the Cardinals, so the Rangers could end the month still in first place. I predicted they’d end June in second place, based on strength of schedule. If they remain in first, with the reinforcements of Soria, Ogando and Baker on the way very soon, this club could really be going places.

Righting The Ship

From gloom to doom is the space of 96 hours. It was but Monday the Rangers were coming of a disastrous start to their longest home stand of the year, going 1-6 against the Indians and the Blue Jays. The offense was going nowhere, trailing the entire major leagues in runs scored for the month of June, by a wide margin. Elvis and David Murphy weren’t hitting at all, Lance Berkman wasn’t much better, getting a hit with runners in scoring position was like trying to stop a zombie invasion: too much for one person to do alone, unless they’re Brad Pitt. Worse yet, Texas was now three games behind the Oakland A’s and guess who was on the schedule next for a big four game series? You guessed it.

Then a strange thing happened. The offense decided to return. The fact it returned within just a couple of days after the return of Ian Kinsler from the disabled list is probably not coincidental. Once the offense returned, Texas began resembling those Rangers we’ve come to know and love over the past few years. By the time the dust settled Thursday afternoon, the Rangers had taken three of four from the front-running A’s, cutting the deficit to one game. Surprisingly enough, the one game Texas lost was the one started by Yu Darvish. The wins came with starters Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm and Josh Lindblom. Lindblom’s gutsy effort Thursday, in which he averaged about two baserunners per inning while only giving up two runs in five innings of work, got rewarded with a post-game demotion back to Round Rock.

Whether the Rangers would win the series or get out of town with a split came down to the last out Thursday, with Joe Nathan on the mound and the tying run at second base:

http://wapc.mlb.com/play?content_id=28203877

Now there’s nothing but optimism surrounding the Rangers again. Kinsler is back. Mitch Moreland returns from his DL stint tonight. Even the bullpen appears to have quality help on the horizon. Joakim Soria began his rehab stint Thursday at AA Frisco, tossing a scoreless inning with good movement on his pitches. Add the former Royals closer to the late inning mix and Texas will have three quality arms to get the game to Nathan. Soria could even spell Nathan for a save opportunity or two to help keep the 38-year-old closer from wearing down at season’s end.

Even with the team back at close to full strength, it won’t be easy. Texas is on the road this weekend against the team with MLB’s best record, the St. Louis Cardinals. followed by three games at Yankee Stadium and three home dates against the Cincinnati Reds. It’s a killer June, but thanks to taking three of four from the A’s, it can now be approached with far less trepidation.

Speed Bump

It finally happened. For the first time in 2013, the Texas Rangers have a losing streak longer than two games.

The speed bump was bound to happen. This is baseball, after all. It doesn’t help that it comes at a time when the Oakland A’s have gone on a hot streak of their own. Within days, the Rangers lead has gone from an impressive 6 games to a miniscule 2 1/2 games. The good news? Even with a recent 8-game winning streak, the Angels still find themselves nine games back of Texas at this writing.

What hurts about this losing streak is, save for two pitches, it didn’t have to happen. On Sunday, Texas was enjoying a 2-0 lead on the Mariners and appeared on their way to a sweep when suddenly, Kendrys Morales turned on the first pitch he saw from Nick Tepesch, easily clearing the fences and plating two runs to tie things up. I could say the same thing about Raul Ibanez‘ 9th inning shot off Joe Nathan that tied the game again, but Nathan was pitching for the third game in a row, so frankly it didn’t surprise me. Still, those two shots led to the Rangers burning through just about everybody in the bullpen before dropping the game in 13 innings.

This led to a problem Monday, as Texas had a doubleheader with the Arizona Diamondbacks. To his credit, Martin Perez, in his first game of the year, recovered fairly well from a rocky start to give Texas 5 1/3 decent innings. Ross Wolf went another inning and 2/3 and the Rangers, while losing 5-3, got through the first game using only two bullpen pitchers. That became the second consecutive loss. Things were looking bright for the nightcap with Yu Darvish taking the mound for Texas.

Darvish was as advertised. As usual, Yu had a bad first inning, when Arizona touched him for two runs (he has a 9.00 ERA in the first inning of games this year). Then, as usual, Darvish settled down. By the time it got to the 8th inning, Texas had a 4-2 lead and Rangers fans were envisioning the first complete game in Yu’s MLB career. Darvish entered the 8th with 13 K’s on the day and no walks. The D-Backs found themselves in the same hole so many teams before them have encountered: Once Yu settles down, good luck.

Darvish gave up a single to start the 8th, but struck out Cody Ross for K #14. Once again, though, one bad pitch changed everything. Didi Gregorius got a hold of this one, tying the game at 4. As soon as it happened, Rangers fans could be heard all the way to Phoenix heaving a collective sigh, knowing the beleaguered bullpen was going to have to come through again and pretty much resigning themselves to the fact that they wouldn’t.

Sure enough, Arizona got a walk-off win in the 9th and Texas has their first 3-game skid of the season.

Now, following an off day, the Rangers and Arizona go back at it again the next two nights, this time in Texas. The question for today for Rangers fans is now, “Is this a sign all is not well with Texas?”

To that I respond, all is NOT well, but all is NOT lost. Two key components were supposed to return from the DL in the next week in Ian Kinsler and Alexi Ogando. Ogando will help settle the starting pitching staff somewhat, which has seen starts in the last week and a half from non-household names Josh Lindblom, Ross Wolf and Martin Perez. While we’ve all enjoyed seeing a more prolonged look at top prospect Jurickson Profar the past week or so, and while Profar has played well offensively, the offense is badly in need of Kinsler’s presence at the top of the line-up. Now that will be longer than anticipated. Shortly after posting this article, the Rangers announced Kinsler will miss at least two more weeks with a stress injury to his ribs. This week or three weeks from now, the following remains true: Profar is good and could eventually be a great major leaguer. Kinsler is a plus major leaguer already and makes the line-up that much more dangerous. Get Ogando and Kinsler back, things will improve again while we wait for more reinforcements to arrive in the coming months.

While on the subject of Profar, many have wondered why he hasn’t started every game for the Rangers while Kinsler’s been disabled. It’s because, as the utility infielder, Leury Garcia will be with the Rangers all year. In that role, he’s expected to play and come through when he gets an opportunity. The only way to get those results is to keep him playing while Kinsler is out. This keeps Leury involved instead of just pining away on the bench. This becomes doubly important if Profar becomes part of a blockbuster trade at the July deadline to bring in someone like David Price or Giancarlo Stanton.

I get that. The playing time he gets today could have an effect in August, when the Rangers won’t have Profar around. It is Garcia who will contribute more to the Rangers post-season chances than Profar. In a sense, that’s a shame. When Kinsler is activated, Profar will go back down to Round Rock so he can play every day. Then, if by some chance he ISN’T part of a blockbuster trade, the Rangers will bring him up on the last possible day he can qualify for a post-season roster spot. In other words, thanks for all you’ve done to get us to the playoffs, Leury. Sorry you won’t be with the team when they happen. Tough luck, dude.

That’s looking too far into the future, though. Maybe we’d better worry about breaking the losing streak tonight first.

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