ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers are now in an offensive swoon.
Texas, which ironically still leads the majors in batting average, runs scored, total bases and hits, on Friday dropped its fifth-consecutive game — a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
The five-game slide is the longest in more than a year for the Rangers and there’s no big secret to what’s been plaguing Texas in the skid: The Rangers aren’t hitting the ball lately.
Texas has scored nine runs in the five games, scoring two or less runs in four of them. Friday night they were limited to just one run despite getting six hits and drawing seven walks.
The Rangers had baserunners in every inning, but in big situations the offense was nearly nonexistent. Texas was just one for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.
“We hit a funk and the only way we can come out of it is we’re going to have to keep grinding and play our way through it,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “If we had three or four guys who were getting it done it might not be so bad. We could put some runs on the board. We’re leaving runners out there. We’re just not sustaining.”
The Texas offense sustained nothing against Francisco Liriano, scoring just one run off him in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed five hits and walked six. But he also struck out six.
Texas had runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings against him. Nelson Cruz never got past second after his one-out double in the second. Runners at first and second with one out in the fourth remained at first and second. Hamilton flew out with a runner at second in the fifth. Mike Napoli grounded into a double play after the Rangers scored their lone run in the sixth inning.
That inning was critical for Texas because it was their lone real threat. Nelson Cruz delivered an RBI single to left to make it a 4-1 game and put runners at first and second. But Napoli bounced a 2-0 pitch to short to start a double play and Yorvit Torrealba struck out to end the inning.
It was just part of an awful night that continued an awful six weeks for Napoli. He had just five RBI in June and is now 0 for his last 18 with runners in scoring position. He went 0 for 3 Friday and also dropped a pop-up which led to two unearned runs scoring in the third as the Twins scored three times off Martin Perez (1-1).
“I didn’t catch a pop-up,” said Napoli. “I catch that pop fly it’s probably a different game.”
Instead of catching the pop-up off the bat of Josh Willingham with two outs, Napoli dropped the two-out bloop and Joe Mauer scored. Justin Morneau then followed with a soft single to right to score another run.
For a Texas team hitting on all cylinders, having three runs scored against them in an inning would be possible to overcome. This Texas team, though, is far from that model. Elvis Andrus is 0 for his last 12. Cruz was two for his last 10 before getting two hits Friday. Michael Young is 19 for his last 91. Napoli is three for his last 27. Torrealba struck out three times Friday and is in a 0-for-11 slump.
The Rangers have just one home run in the last five games and have just two extra-base hits in the last 25 innings.
Washington said he doesn’t get frustrated with his team but was disappointed they didn’t come through against Minnesota Friday.
“I don’t read too much into it,” said Hamilton of the team’s offensive woes. “You hate to lose five in a row. You’re not going to do good all the time. That’s the best way I can answer it. We come in, do our work and just play the game. What happens happens. We’ll give what we got when we’re out there. We’d like for it to be a win every night but it doesn’t work that way. Nobody’s hitting the panic button.”
Perez was one of the few bright spots for the Rangers. He pitched six innings, allowing four runs but only two of them were earned. He struck out three and walked three.
Stats like that would normally give you a shot at a win when the Texas offense is going well.