Texas Falls in Away Series at Tampa Bay: 3 Takeaways
By Kenneth Nash
Despite playing a struggling Rays team, the Rangers dropped two of three games away against Tampa Bay.
After falling in games one and three of the series, Texas fell to 7-13, last in the AL West and 6.5 games back of the Los Angeles Angels.
Here are our three takeaways.
Martin Perez Still Can’t Find It
Martin Perez, coming off an offseason injury that saw him miss the start of the season, is still struggling on the mound. The lefty made his third start of the season in the series opener and got roughed up pretty early on in the game. Perez went just 4 innings allowing 7 earned runs on 10 hits from the Rays. He struck out 4 but walked 3 and saw his season ERA take another spike up to 13.14. Martin has given up 18 earned runs through 12.1 innings and in his last two starts, he’s gone a combined 7 innings and given up 15 runs. These bad starts are drawing the ire of many Rangers fan who are calling for Texas to move on from Perez who hasn’t had a season with an ERA below 4.00 since 2013.
Call to the Pen
Texas isn’t going to move on from Perez anytime soon. This team isn’t one who is being cost a playoff spot by one pitcher. At only 27 years old, Perez is just now reaching peak pitching years and the Rangers will easily see through the end of his current contract which has 2019 and 2020 team options. However, Martin Perez was seen entering the season as one of the sure things in this rotation. He may not be top tier but you knew what quality you would get from him. Early on though, his struggles have been pronounced and its surely making Texas a bit uneasy.
Matt Moore Finally Had a Good Outing
Matt Moore was acquired as bullpen depth by the Rangers in a trade with the Giants. Despite struggling in years past, Texas still had high hopes for a pitcher who once was dominant. Moore had shown significant struggles in his first two starts of the year giving up a combined 9 earned runs in 7.1 innings. His third start, April 11th against the Angels, showed some improvement giving up 3 runs in 5 innings. Tuesday though, Moore showed the ability he still has at only 28 years old. The lefty went 7 innings and allowed just 1 unearned run striking out 6 in Texas’ 7-2 victory.
The Rangers no doubt would love to see Moore dominate like this in every start but obviously that isn’t plausible. However, if Moore can find a consistent middle ground somewhere between his first two starts and Tuesdays outing, the Rangers could have a very capable end of the rotation starter.
One Inning Ruins the Day
Cole Hamels got the start Wednesday against the Rays and for the first 5 innings was quite dominant. Allowing just 2 hits and working on a shutout entering the 6th, the Rangers ace looked to have found his stride. The Rays jumped on Cole in the 6th though touching him up for 3 runs which saw them take a 3-1 lead. Texas would try to battle back from 4-1 in the 9th but would eventually fall 4-2 in the rubber match of the series.
Some have questioned whether Jeff Banister should have left Hamels in for the 6th since Texas had a fairly rested bullpen entering the game. At that point, Banister had no reason to question whether Hamels should keep pitching. His pitch total was fairly low and he had made quick work of the Rays to that point in the game. Putting him back in was the right call and sometimes the right call can still backfire. Despite it being the right call, these type of innings are ones the Rangers must avoid. As a team struggling for wins early in the season, Texas must capitalize on every opportunity.