Rangers-Blue Jays Preview
The Texas Rangers are one of only two major league teams to win 90 games in each of the past four seasons.
It seems a pretty safe bet that run won’t be extended.
Consecutive wins have been rare for the Rangers, who will turn to a pitcher coming off perhaps the worst start in franchise history Saturday as they seek a second straight win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Texas had World Series aspirations this season after failing to reach the playoffs for the first time in four years in 2013 despite winning 91 games. A 15-9 start appeared to signal the Rangers (39-57) would again be in the postseason mix, but they’ve gone 24-48 since and now find themselves with the worst record in the majors.
A playoff spot is all but out of the question for Texas, which joined Tampa Bay as the only 90-win teams the last four seasons.
The Rangers opened the second half Friday with a rare victory, ending their second eight-game losing streak of the past month with a 5-1 win at Toronto. J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer against his former team and Adrian Beltre added a solo shot as Texas won for the fourth time in 26 games.
"It was a solid game all the way around," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We made all the plays. That’s the way we have to continue to play."
Friday’s loss was the third straight and ninth in 11 games for Toronto (49-48), which fell into a second-place tie with the Yankees in the AL East.
"We have to play good for a few weeks, consistently," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told MLB’s official website. "We need to do that. We’re still in this thing. It can go one way or another."
Yu Darvish proved too much for the slumping Blue Jays, who have totaled 29 runs and batted .171 with runners in scoring position during that 11-game span.
Colby Rasmus’ seventh-inning homer was Toronto’s first in five contests, its longest drought of the season.
Beltre remains a big bright spot in an otherwise dreadful season for the Rangers. The All-Star third baseman is batting .425 with six homers and 17 RBIs in his last 22 games.
There’s nowhere to go but up for Texas’ Colby Lewis (6-6, 6.54 ERA), who endured a dreadful outing his last time out. He was charged with a club-record 13 runs – 11 earned – over 2 1-3 innings in a 15-6 loss to the Angels on July 10. The righty also gave up a career-worst 13 hits, while his ERA increased by more than a full run.
"I never got the opportunity to make pitches," Lewis said. "It all happened so quickly. My game has always been to attack hitters, get ahead in the count and get outs. It was one of those days. I got beat, plain and simple."
Facing the Blue Jays doesn’t seem an ideal way for Lewis to bounce back since he’s compiled a 7.58 ERA in eight career starts against them.
Jose Bautista is 4 for 11 with a pair of homers off Lewis.
Also coming off an outing he’d rather forget is Marcus Stroman (4-2, 4.05), who was tagged for six runs and eight hits over 3 2-3 innings July 9 against the Angels, but escaped without a decision in an 8-7 loss.
That performance was in stark contrast to the rookie’s first seven starts, a stretch in which he posted a 2.08 ERA while completing at least six innings six times.
Stroman is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in five home starts, walking five and striking out 30.