It’s been a strange last couple of weeks.
On Wednesday afternoon the Rangers were swept by the Pirates in Arlington, something I couldn’t have envisioned three days ago, but now that it’s happened, it’s really no surprise. Texas is playing bad baseball right now. They have not deserved to win any of these games.
Matt Garza has pitched like flaming garbage as a Ranger, and I for one cannot wait for the season to end just so I don’t have to look at him anymore. Today was the 7th time in 10 starts with Texas that he has surrendered at least 4 runs; the 4 walks he allowed are a new American League season-high, and the 4.0 innings he delivered is tied for his season-low. Oh Matt, we were hoping for so, so much more.
Of course to be fair, the offense hasn’t done the rotation any favors, either. Sure, this afternoon the club provided 5 runs on 9 hits — enough to win on most days/nights — but nearly all the damage came after the 6th inning. Last night, too, the offense generated 4 runs on 13 hits, but only one of those runs came before the 8th inning, and you can’t expect Martin Perez to shoulder that kind of burden all by himself.
Over the duration of the Pittsburgh series, the Pirates basically did a better job at being the Rangers than the Rangers did: They utilized 3 strong starting pitching performances, leveraged the lead in their favor early on in each game without the benefit of the home run ball (only one in the series, coming in the 9th inning this afternoon), and put the games away with their strong bullpen (that didn’t have to be very strong with the leads they were given). All you can do is tip your cap; they beat us this week.
These anecdotes offer very little solace to the Ranger fan base at the moment, as right now all we can hope for is this brief dry spell is merely the primer for what is to be a revitalized club facing the Athletics this weekend. That is the extent of my optimism, because that is the only optimism that still exists. Unless the Rangers at least win two out of three in their upcoming series, there is virtually no way to win the West in 2013. Not with Tampa Bay and Kansas City looming on the schedule.
The A’s, meanwhile, still have two games left to be played before Friday night’s matchup in Texas. Albeit against the Twins, if somehow Minnesota manages to split over the next two days, it will reduce the distance in the loss column the Rangers will have to make up. Right now the division lead stands at 2.5 games — 3 in the loss column — so the worst case scenario is the Rangers will still be able to control their own destiny this weekend in that department. Sweeping Oakland is highly unlikely, but if you live and die by the just take it one game at a time mantra, then there’s that, I suppose.
As far as the “What more could we ask for?” department, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez will be the 3 starters Friday-through-Sunday. At this point of the year that troika gives the Rangers their best opportunity to win, and like I said, the goal is two out of three. Anything less is unacceptable, but to expect anything more would just be downright greedy.
If the Rangers are who were thought they were, then this season isn’t dead just yet. It’s not easy to make up 3 games in the loss column with only 17 to go, but they will have their chance starting Friday. If it does not happen — like in this Pittsburgh series — all we can do is tip our cap to the A’s for outlasting a pretty damn good Texas Rangers team.