Texas Rangers are still not up to par with divisional superior
By Travis Koch
The Texas Rangers streak of five consecutive series wins came to an end Wednesday night. They were swept in a two-game series vs. the division-leading Houston Astros.
A home series against the Houston Astros was highly anticipated by Texas Rangers nation. Texas had won 11 of their past 14 games and curiosity grew as to whether or not the hot streak could continue against the American League West’s best. Unfortunately, it could not.
The Rangers got swept in the two-game series against the Astros. It was their first series loss since getting swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers back on June 12th-13th. Though both games were close against Houston, it is clear the Rangers are still the inferior squad. This isn’t exactly breaking news as they are 18.5 games behind Houston in the division. But Texas had a .785 winning % in their last 14 games. Perhaps it would translate to at least a .500 series against the Astros?
Game 1 Analysis
Lack of execution prevented the Texas Rangers from winning game one of the series. The game was lost at the hands of starting pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx. The notable ground ball pitcher allowed two home runs over six innings. Also known for his control, Bibens-Dirkx walked two Astros and also hit two Astros. In all, he gave up five earned runs on nine hits over six innings pitched.
It wasn’t his most refined night, but a pitcher isn’t going to bring his A game every night. With that said, anything less than a pitcher’s A game will fall short of victory against a good hitting Houston bunch.
That’s how it turned out Tuesday night as the Rangers fell 5-3.
Game 2 Analysis
It was the little things that cost the Texas Rangers in game two of the series. Sadly, I’m referring to a long list of little things.
First, Mike Minor failed to toss a shut down inning in the top of the fourth after his team scored three in the bottom of the third. Minor gave up a three runs in the fourth and a solo home run to Yuli Gurriel in the fifth to erase the Rangers’ lead.
In the sixth, Rangers were on first and second base when Shin-Soo Choo grounded a ball down the third base line. The pitcher fielded the ball and tossed it to third in an attempt to get the lead runner. The runner was safe at third, but a then throw from third base to first base got Choo out. It turned out Choo was not sprinting down the first base line. The mental error cost the Rangers an out, but Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara were due up with runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, neither were able to drive even one run home and huge opportunity was squandered.
The game proceeded to the 10th inning tied at four. Texas gave the ball to reliever Chris Martin to maintain the tie. After retiring a red-hot Alex Bregman, Martin afforded a single to Jose Altuve and then hit Gurriel with a pitch. With Astros at first and second base, Martin launched a pickoff throw into center field and both runners advanced. Evan Gattis then hit a sacrifice fly to right center and the Rangers lost the lead.
An empty bottom of the 10th inning resulted in a 5-4 Texas Rangers loss.
The Rangers still have a ways to go
The Texas Rangers are a humble bunch. Even after a white-hot second half of June, it’s doubtful the team got ahead of themselves. Frankly, each of their five consecutive series wins came against teams that were below .500. Texas did what they were supposed to do against average to below average teams; however, every one of their American League West opponents is above average. Thus, they’ll have their work cut out as the season progresses.
Nevertheless, progress is being made. The Rangers very well could have won both games against the Astros. They are certainly a more competitive bunch now than they were last time they played Houston. Fluctuating success isn’t going to change the organization’s intentions to carry out a minor rebuild beginning as early as this week.
Next: Texas Rangers Trade Feature: Cole Hamels
A number of big name Texas Rangers could be on the move prior to the July 31st trade deadline. While any move will disrupt a sudden flow to the season, the move will be justified. The Rangers are in need of a minor rebuild; there’s no seeing past it. And let’s face it, the Houston Astros have the division on lock for the next couple seasons.