Rangers postseason grip continuing to slip away

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers started their six-game homestand Monday without much momentum but at least they still had some hope in the American League West.

Six losses later that division-championship hope is gone as Oakland completed the 0-6 Texas home stand with a 5-1 beating.

Texas now trails Oakland by 6 ½ games with 14 games remaining. The bright side for Texas is that it’s still one of the wild-card leaders in the AL.

But if Texas keeps playing like it has this month, how long can that last?

“We haven’t really played well,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “That’s the bottom line. It’s not about any one person or anything like that. As a club, as an organization, we just haven’t gotten it done here recently. All that being said we’re still in good position. We’re either going to get it done or we’re not. I’ll always bet on our guys.”

If the Rangers continue to play like they did on their first ever winless homestand of at least six games, Daniels might not want to put a whole lot of money on that.

Sunday’s loss was typical of the way the Rangers have played in a stretch that’s seen them lose 12 of the last 15 games.

Starter Martin Perez gave up two first-inning runs to put the offense in an early hole. And as the case has been recently, the offense failed to rally. And of course, they had plenty of chances.
Texas had 10 hits, all of them singles, but the Rangers were just 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Getting the big hit has become an exercise in futility for Texas, which went a combined 2 for 24 with runners in scoring position in getting swept by the Athletics.

The offensive Texas offense led to the Rangers ending the homestand by trailing at the end of each of the final 34 innings of the stand. In addition to that, the homer has become an endangered species for Texas. The Rangers went the entire home stand without hitting a ball out of Rangers Ballpark.

That may have something to do with the jet stream being dead in Arlington but it’s apparently only dead to the Rangers. Oakland hit two homers Sunday and five home runs in the three-game series.

Texas totaled two runs in the last two games of the series, putting the onus squarely on the offense. But Friday it lost a 9-8 shootout and the starting rotation has just four quality starts since Sept. 2, with Martin Perez’s 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball Sunday being No. 4.

Texas manager Ron Washington said he’s not frustrated by his team’s play because they’ve had opportunities to win plenty of ballgames. They just haven’t taken advantage of the opportunities.

It’s a sentiment shared in the clubhouse.

“We can’t get frustrated because we still have a lot of games ahead,” said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who went 1 for 5 and scored the lone Texas run in the bottom of the first inning. “When you’re frustrated is when the season is over and you have no more chances or you’re out of the race. We’re still in the race and we need to stay focused. That’s the biggest thing for us.”

The Rangers appeared to have caught a break before Sunday’s game when Jarrod Parker, who’s 6-1 lifetime against Texas, was scratched. But lefty Tommy Milone, who was 0-5 against the Rangers for his career, pitched five innings of one-run ball to pick up the win.

Of course the Rangers had chances. They left two runners on in the first, two in the second, two in the fourth, two in the sixth and two more in the seventh.

Had someone in the lineup come through with a hit in any one of those situations, maybe the outcome would have been different. But instead Oakland was able to make the two first-inning runs stand up and tacked on another in the third and two more in the ninth.

“I’m not sure what’s going on,” Washington said of his team’s offensive struggles. “I’ve never witnessed it before. You can have days where things don’t go right. But today we left 10 guys on. The opportunities were there. We just didn’t cash them in.”

But like Daniels said, despite the dreadful stand the Rangers still control their destiny. They are tied with Tampa Bay for the wild-card lead and will play four games at the Rays beginning Monday.

The Rays were all the Rangers were thinking about after Sunday’s loss. That’s smart because there’s nothing worth remembering about the way the Rangers have played so far this month.