Pitching workhorses can’t get job done for Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas – The pieces the Texas Rangers used Saturday to try and beat the Houston Astros have been some of their most reliable all season.
   
All-Star Yu Darvish, left-hander Robbie Ross and right-hander Tanner Scheppers have been part of the winning combination more often than not.
   
It didn’t happen against the Astros though. Darvish pitched six innings and allowed a season high five earned runs. Ross, who made his 40th appearance Saturday, allowed a key home run for his second-consecutive outing. And Scheppers, who has a chance to make the All-Star team as part of the final player vote, was tagged two runs while retiring just one batter in his 42nd appearance of the season.
   
Add all those ugly numbers up and they equal a 9-5 loss for Texas, just its second loss all season when scoring at least five runs.
   
The offense for Texas didn’t show up until late in the game, but unfortunately for the Rangers the pitching never did.
   
Texas manager Ron Washington said the loss has nothing to do with the innings pitched.
   
“It’s obvious that the guys have been taking on a workload, but this is Major League Baseball,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “And in Major League Baseball you have workload. They (the Astros) put up nine runs tonight and it was on three of our best pitchers. You play enough ballgames and you go out there enough, things like that will happen. But to use that (workload) as an excuse? Nah. We don’t use excuses like that. We just didn’t get it done.”
   
Darvish was effective enough through three, working around baserunners in each of the innings. But in the fourth Brandon Barnes laced a two-out, two-run homer to right to make it 2-0. He retired the first two batters in the fifth but then walked two and allowed a single to load the bases. He didn’t respond either as Marc Krauss singled past Ian Kinsler for his first two big-league RBI to make it 4-0.
   
Darvish found fault with his approach Saturday.
   
“I should have been a little bit more aggressive,” said Darvish, who was 3-0 with a 1.90 ERA vs. the Astros coming into the game. “Not just this outing, but the last outing I think I threw too many fastballs, and I think I’m a breaking ball pitcher. So I should have thrown a little more breaking balls.”
   
Whatever Darvish was throwing, by the time he was pulled the five earned runs he allowed were the most since last August. He struck out six, but walked four and gave up six hits.
   
The Texas offense got Darvish off the hook temporarily in the sixth by scoring four times to tie the game. The fun was short-lived though as Darvish walked Jose Altuve to open the seventh before getting pulled for Ross with four left-handers scheduled for Houston.
   
It took just two for the game to take another bad turn as Ross hit Brett Wallace before getting ahead of Jason Castro 0-2. Castro then worked the count full before lining a three-run homer just to the right of center to break the game back open again with what turned out to be the game-winning hit.
   
“It seems like every time I’m getting a guy 0-2 and then all of the sudden it’s 3-2,” said Ross, who allowed a two-run homer on Wednesday. “It’s just a little rut in the road I guess. Hopefully I can overcome it and work my way back just to feeling normal again.”
   
The same goes for Scheppers. The Rangers made it a two-run game on a solo homer from Nelson Cruz in the seventh inning, but Scheppers opened the eight buy allowing a single before Jake Elmore hit his first homer in the majors.
   
Scheppers has now allowed five earned runs over his last four innings and has seen his ERA go from 0.95 to 1.88 in that time.
   
“It definitely hasn’t been smooth,” Scheppers said of his recent rut. “The game of baseball humbles you quickly. I just have to go out there and make the adjustments. Obviously they do. My body feels fine. Everything feels fine. I just need to make better pitches.”
   
It didn’t help the pitchers that the offense took some time to get going. Lefty Dallas Keuchel kept the Rangers off the board through five innings. He was done in the sixth after giving up back-to-back singles to open the inning.
   
Then Geovany Soto gave Texas the offensive lift it needed with a three-run homer into the Houston bullpen to tie the game.
   
That lift was a fleeting one though.