The Texas Rangers dropped another game on Friday night. This time to the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1. This loss marks their seventh loss in the last nine games. The division lead has shrunk from five games down to three and a half over the Astros and now the Angels. Doom and gloom reigns throughout the fan base. The boat is taking on water and instead of picking up a bucket to get the water out, some fans are jumping overboard. There are cries of fraud and fire Chris Young ringing throughout the twitter-sphere. I am here to say that even though the nights are dark the Rangers will get back to winning baseball games. Baseball history is littered with good teams and even great teams going through stretches like this. I want to take a look at some of the best teams in history and remind fans of when they went through losing stretches and how they bounced back from it.
The Texas Rangers are not alone, even great teams go through losing stretches
The 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers were the dominant National League regular season team. On May 30th they were 33-14 and facing the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates at home. They had a ninth inning lead and were poised to go to 34-14, but Craig Kimbrel blew the save, by giving up two runs and the Dodgers lost the game. They lost 10 of the next 17 games. That included multiple three-game losing streaks. They bottomed out at 37-23 after a 2-0 loss to the Mets. Then they found a way to win 2-0 the next day. They won again the day after that. They only had two more 3-game losing streaks the rest of the season. They finished with 111 wins.
The next team is last year's World Series champion Houston Astros. They had two different long losing stretches. They lost 8 of 11 games in April, and then in June lost six of nine games. The Astros found a way to win one game, then lost a game, then won three more, and then they were back on track. After that they only had one three-game losing streak the rest of the season. They ended up with 106 wins and the World Series.
Now, lets go to the 2001 Seattle Mariners. They own the record for most wins in a season. Even that Mariners team had a losing stretch. In June 2001 they had a stretch where they lost 7 of 11 games. That included losing consecutive games three times. The offense struggled, pitching was inconsistent. and the Mariners lost games. They ended that stretch on June 29th and won five in a row. After that it was relatively smooth sailing as the Mariners won 116 games.
In a 162-game season nearly every team has a period where they just cannot win games. I am not saying this Texas Rangers team is as good as those other teams, but I am saying that they will come out of this. Teams that are frauds do not have stretches like what the Rangers had the first two months of the season. They were setting all sorts of franchise best marks in runs scored, run differential, and had one of their best months in team history in May.
Rangers continue to struggle with runners in scoring position
Despite the loss on Friday there were some encouraging signs. Perez continues to pitch outstanding at Globe Life Field. His ERA is still a minuscule 1.71 and he only gave up the two-run home run last night. He was outstanding as was the bullpen. Grant Anderson, Josh Sborz, and Jose Leclerc threw three perfect innings to give the offense a shot to come back. The lineup continue to struggle with runners in scoring position, they were 0-9 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
It seems like outside of Seager and Taveras that most other players are pressing right now. They are trying to do too much, rather than just move runners over. Lets break down the sixth inning rally that failed. The inning started with Corey Seager lining a ball down the right field line and ending up with a double. Nathaniel Lowe then walked on six pitches. The Rangers had two runners on no outs, down by one run. Seager on second should score in this situation to tie the game a majority of the time.
It is up to Adolis Garcia, Josh Jung, and possibly Jonah Heim to drive the runners in. Garcia with a deep fly ball or a slow grounder to the second baseman would have moved Seager over. Instead he struck out on four pitches, including swinging at pitches for strike two and three that were clearly below the strike zone. Garcia finished 0-3 with two strikeouts and still has only one home run since May 20th.
The next batter was Josh Jung. He was 0-2 coming into this at-bat. Jung had lined out sharply to the center fielder and then grounded out weakly to Matt Chapman in his next at-bat. This time he had runners on and it was apparent that he was coming to the plate to get a hit and drive those runners in. Veteran Kevin Gausman detected the eagerness from the rookie and attacked the inside corner. He got Jung to foul off two pitches that were well off the inside corner. Then on the fifth pitch, he got Jung to fly out to Springer in right field. Jung would finish the game 0-4 with one strikeout.
The final batter was Jonah Heim. He had a double to the wall over the head of Daulton Varsho in center in the second inning. This time Gausman threw splitters to Heim. The first one was in the dirt and Heim laid off of it. The next one was in the strike zone and Heim swung and grounded it right to Matt Chapman who threw him out at first and ended the inning.
That was the Rangers best chance at a run and they could not get it done. This continues a stretch of ineptitude with runners in scoring position(RISP), In this stretch of losing seven of nine the Rangers are 14-78 with runners in scoring position. That has lowered their team batting average with RISP to a still league-high .318. It was in the high .330s before this stretch started. There is unfortunately no real easy fix.
I do think players need to relax. Last night we saw Nathaniel Lowe get a late base hit and try to stretch it into a double and be easily thrown out at second. Garcia has prided himself on not chasing this season, but lately he has been swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone. He has six games with multiple strikeouts in June. That middle three of Lowe, Garcia, and Jung is there to drive in runs and right now they are just coming up short in their responsibilities.
The Rangers are in a stretch where they play nearly every day. Today is a new day, a new opportunity, and a new chance to get back to winning baseball games. As I pointed out with the great teams earlier they all went through stretches like this where nothing seemingly goes right. All it takes is to win one game. Then come back the next day and win another game. Then win a series, then the team will be back to where they were. It all starts with winning the game today.
Preview of Saturday's Game
The Blue Jays and Rangers will play game two of this three-game series on Saturday afternoon. The Rangers will send Dane Dunning to the mound and the Blue Jays starter is still to be announced.
Dunning has come back to earth after a scorching hot start to the season. He did not allow more than two runs in any appearance either starting or out of the bullpen through his start on May 22nd against Pittsburgh. Since then Dunning has made three starts and allowed three or more runs in each game. A new issue has presented itself the last three times that Dunning has pitched. Against Detroit it was the seven hits that caused him to allow three runs. He then gave up three home runs to the Cardinals, after not allowing a single home run prior to that start. Then his last start against the Angels he walked five batters after not walking more than three in any single start. Dunning will be trying to get back to the form that saw him get through most of May with a sub 2.00 ERA.
The game time is 3:05pm and will be broadcast locally by Bally Sports Southwest.