ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers offense started Saturday night’s game much like the season began for the Rangers — with so much promise.
But in another effort that has mirrored the season for Texas, Saturday’s first-inning sizzle was followed by plenty of fizzle as the Rangers dropped a 6-3 decision to Kansas City.
Shin-Soo Choo’s first pitch leadoff homer was the lone offensive highlight for the Rangers, who managed just four singles and the Choo homer in eight innings against Jeremy Guthrie, a middle of the rotation starter with middle of the rotation numbers (10-10, 4.32 ERA).
But the offense the Rangers are rolling out as the season winds down is far from average and that makes winning games a struggle.
"The margin of error is narrowing for sure," said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who had one of the five hits off Guthrie. "You have to bring your A game every single time, every single inning. When that’s not happening it looks like it’s not a win for us. It’s been a tough for year. It’s been a learning process for us."
The Rangers haven’t scored more than three runs in the last eight games, the longest streak of offensive futility of the season. It’s not by much though as the Rangers also have a pair of seven-game stretches in which they’ve failed to crack the three-run ceiling.
It’s not hard to figure out why the Rangers have scored just 28 runs in the last eight games.
The numbers don’t lie for a team flirting with 100 losses. Texas had Mike Carp and his .178 average on the bench against Guthrie. But in his place the Rangers started J.P. Arencibia at first base. Arencibia went 0 for 4 Saturday and is 2 for his last 28 and hitting just .173 on the season, making his brief hot streak following the All-Star break more of an aberration that a reality.
Arencibia, who was hitting sixth Saturday, was followed in the order by Jim Adduci. The good news for Adduci is that his fifth-inning single was one of the five hits the Rangers had. The bad news is all that single did was snap an 0 for 26 slump for a No. 7 hitter batting .174.
Throw in a down season from Choo, a streaky rookie in Rougned Odor and injuries and that adds up to an offense that has been anything but consistent.
Throw in a start for Nick Tepesch in which things unraveled behind control problems in the fifth that led to three runs, that puts even more pressure on an erratic offense.
The Rangers did score two runs in the ninth inning off Aaron Crow but they also failed to put together more than one hit in any of the eight innings pitched by Guthrie, who had never won in Arlington before Saturday.
That kind of production isn’t going to get it done even on nights when the starter is pitching well.
"It is tough especially when you can’t string anything together," said Texas manager Ron Washington, whose team is averaging just 3.66 runs per game over the last 58 games. "We tried to steal some bags to try and make some things happen but the catcher (Erik Kratz) sort of stopped that at least on one of the steals. We just haven’t been able to sustain anything. We get an inning going and we hit into a double play or we just don’t get two or three or four hits back-to-back."