ARLINGTON, Texas — Not having Ian Kinsler or Mitch Moreland in the lineup would be a good excuse for the offensive woes the Texas Rangers are going through right now.
But it would be just that, an excuse.
The Rangers aren’t big on those right now. Unfortunately they’re not big on winning either as Texas dropped its third-consecutive game Thursday night, losing 3-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rangers, losers of three-straight at home for the first time since Aug. 23-25, 2011, have lost six of their last eight games and are a season high two games out of first place. They are now 10 games over .500, their lowest point since May 13.
Texas had just six hits Thursday and had just one at-bat with a runner in scoring position. Of course that runner didn’t score.
Once again Yu Darvish pitched well enough Thursday to give the Rangers a chance to win only to have the offense fail to do anything. The Rangers, who are 4-8 in June, have scored 36 runs this month and been held to three or fewer runs nine times this month.
“We haven’t really played the game like we’re supposed to,” said third baseman Adrian Beltre, who had one of the six hits Thursday but also made an error which led to two unearned runs in the eighth inning. “A lot of mental mistakes. A lot of running mistakes. When we hit that day we don’t pitch. It’s just the whole thing but mainly offensively we haven’t found the groove we want lately. We haven’t scored enough runs for the pitching staff lately.”
That goes for Darvish especially. Thursday night the Texas ace allowed just one run in seven innings. He struck out nine and retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.
He’s now allowed a total of eight earned runs over his last five starts but hasn’t won a game in that stretch. The Rangers have scored just 11 runs in those five starts and won just one of those games.
That’s not an acceptable result when an ace is on the mound giving a struggling team a chance to win.
“We’ve got to pick it up real quick,” said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who also went 1 of 4. “We get caught up sometimes in who’s playing and who’s hurt. We need to go out there and whoever’s in the lineup take pride and just go out there and try to win games. It’s disappointing especially when you have your ace on the mound and you’re not able to put runs on the board for him to feel comfortable.”
The Rangers did put up runs for Darvish on Thursday, or at least one run. Nelson Cruz slammed a solo homer to right in the bottom of the second inning to give Texas a 1-0 lead against Esmil Rogers.
That would be it for the offense though as Rogers, who allowed one run on four innings in his last start against Texas, pitched seven innings and allowed just one run. He’s only started three times this season and hadn’t won a game as a starter in the majors since 2011.
Darvish was up to the task of matching him though. He allowed a run in the third inning but that was it. Toronto managed just three hits off him but was able to put a couple together in the third to tie the game.
Darvish put some of the blame on himself.
“I don’t think I have been doing my job,” he said. “This is a bad shift of bad momentum. I think in order to keep the motivation I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing, that is to pitch my game.”
Toronto broke the 1-1 tie in the eight when Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double off Tanner Scheppers with two outs. The inning started with Emilio Bonifacio reaching on the rare Beltre error.
It set an ominous tone for what ended up being a bad inning in a bad month.
“Sometimes that happens,” Texas manager Ron Washington said of his team’s offensive struggles. “We just haven’t had an opportunity for everything to happen up and down the lineup. Once we do that, I mean the first game against Cleveland we did (a 6-3 win). But after that, we just haven’t had things happening up and down the lineup.”