Former MLB and Texas Rangers utility man Curtis Wilkerson says that you have to have three things happen to win a baseball game: “good pitching, good defense, and timely hitting.” This was something that he stressed when I played for one of his teams. While it seems like an obvious checklist to win a ballgame, it is one that each of the Rangers’ last five games can be filed into while looking for a reason why they lost.
The Rangers recently faced three aces in three days and took two games of the three. Taking games pitched by Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale in the same week is an impressive feat, so what went wrong afterwards? They struggled to have one of the three things happen that you need to win a ballgame.
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Game 1: The Rangers faced Carlos Rodon, a good young left handed pitcher. This was the second time they had seen Rodon in his career, but it seemed to make no difference against the left handed heavy Rangers. Nick Martinez pitched well for the Rangers and the bullpen was spotless. The bats didn’t really get going, but that’s not where this one was lost. Elvis Andrus botched a routine play in the third inning to allow two Chicago White Sox runs to score. Elvis said that he should “make that play cleanly 1000 times.” What lost the Rangers this game? Defense.
Game 2: The Rangers had good defense and some timely hitting in this game. Where they lost it was Ross Detwiler‘s relief appearance in the sixth inning. Yovani Gallardo had pitched a fantastic five innings but had a high pitch count and was forced out of the game. Home runs from Ryan Rua and Leonys Martin, two players who have struggled at the plate ever since, accounted for all of the Rangers offense. Manager Jeff Banister left Alex Claudio out for a second inning in the 11th when he gave up a walk off home run to Gordon Beckham. The bullpen was tired and Claudio hung a pitch. The Rangers had the bases loaded with on out twice in this game and grounded into double plays both times. The White Sox also intentionally walked four Ranger batters, but they were unable to make them pay. What lost the Rangers this game? Pitching and a lack of timely hitting.
Jun 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox third basemanGordon Beckham
(15) celebrates his walk off home run against the Texas Rangers in the eleventh inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Game 3: The rival Oakland Athletics came into town for a three game series and did not look that sharp. The Rangers had timely hitting, which was aided by poor fielding and pitching by Oakland. However, Chi Chi Gonzalez had his worst career start to date, which was coincidentally the second time he had seen the A’s. A big part of this game was a miscue by Martin in the center field when he initially came in to catch a fly ball and it ended up being over his head for a two run double. Reliever Keone Kela came in to try to clean up the trouble that Chi Chi had run into, but was not able to do much and allowed another two runs to score. Adrian What lost the Rangers this game? Defense and pitching.
Game 4: The Rangers seemed to be out of this one before it even started. Wandy Rodriguez was not good in the first two innings of the game allowing eight runs. A’s backup catcher Josh Phegley became the newest member of the Rangers killer club by hitting his second home run in two nights. The Rangers really didn’t have a chance to win this one after the top of the second inning when it was already 8-0. The bright spot of this game was Anthony Bass, who came out of the bullpen and only allowed three baserunners while striking out five in four scoreless innings. He looked very sharp. The Rangers picked up two runs on a double by backup catcher Carlos Corporan in the fifth inning. What lost the Rangers this game? Pitching.
Jun 25, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcherColby Lewis
(48) pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Game 5: In a faceoff with Sonny Gray runs are always hard to come by. In the fourth inning the Rangers were able to push across two runs with a Mitch Moreland home run, a Joey Gallo double, and a Robinson Chirinos single. Oakland were able to push two runs across to tie the game in the top of the fifth. The Rangers added on a third run via a Mitch Moreland single to score Prince Fielder in the sixth. The Athletics did not wait to come back and loaded the bases up with no outs against Colby Lewis in the top of the next inning. Lewis was able to escape the jam only giving up one run on a Josh Reddick sacrifice fly. The seventh inning of a tie game belonged to Kela who got two quick outs before putting runners on first and second and being lifted for Sam Freeman to face a lefty in catcher Stephen Voght. Voght hit one back up the middle which Freeman attempted to make a play on, but he was unable to do anything with it. Andrus would have been there to record the final out of the inning if Freeman had let it go through. After a walk and a base hit, Oakland had a 6-3 lead and would cruise to a victory. What lost the Rangers this game? Pitching.
The Rangers have been playing poor baseball over the last five days. This five game losing streak is a bump in the road that they will have to get over. Things will turn around for this team when Adrian Beltre is right and Josh Hamilton returns to the lineup in Baltimore. When it comes together, the Rangers will be back to their winning ways.