Rough road trip continues for Rangers
OAKLAND, Calif. — Thanks to a fast start to the season, the Texas Rangers still have the best record in the American League West.
However, they're certainly far from playing the best baseball in the West right now.
A lost West Coast swing continued Thursday as Oakland battered Yu Darvish and the Rangers 7-1.
The lifeless loss dropped the Rangers to 2-5 on a road trip that's already included a lengthy team meeting, a near no-hitter at the hands of an Oakland rookie and another injury to a member of the starting rotation.
Texas, which went 40-17 against AL West teams last year, is now a division-worst 10-12 against teams from the West. The Rangers haven't finished a season with a losing record inside their division since 2007.
Oakland, which came into the four-game series against Texas having lost 10 of 11 games, dominated the Rangers in three of the four games. The Rangers won the second game 6-3, but scored a total of two runs in their three losses. Oakland, which is last in the AL in average, runs scored, hits and total bases, scored 21 runs in those three games.
"You've got to tip your hat. For two days, they threw the ball against us very well," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "When you pitch well, it certainly makes hitting look like it's not doing very well. It's obvious we're not swinging the bat the way we're capable of.
That's the guys who got us right here and that's the guys who are going to take us further. We've just got to have patience."
The offensive slide Thursday was magnified by a wild fourth inning from Yu Darvish. Texas trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the fourth after having scored for the first time since Tuesday in the top of the inning.
But Darvish, who came into the game fourth in the AL in walks, lost control in the bottom of the inning. He walked consecutive batters with one out, then hit Kurt Suzuki on a 0-2 pitch to load the bases. Cliff Pennington followed with a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game.
Darvish (7-4) couldn't escape further damage. He walked Jemile Weeks to load the bases again and then Coco Crisp, who came into the game hitting .158, smashed a three-run triple to break the game open in support of Brandon McCarthy (5-3).
Darvish, who walked six and struck out four in his 5 1/3 innings, said he felt good early but then struggled with his mechanics in the fourth inning. The six walks matched a season high for Darvish, who watched video after the game to try and figure out his problems.
"It wasn't like my mechanism was off from the start," said Darvish. "I felt very good in the first three innings and felt like I was going to be able to maintain that for the whole game. But in the fourth inning, especially in the at-bat against Brandon Inge (the first walk), from there it just went south."
Darvish said Crisp, who hit his first homer of the season off Darvish in the first inning, looked a lot like Josh Hamilton on Thursday.
The Texas offense looked a lot like Oakland's throughout the series. Thursday it was McCarthy who combined with two relievers on a four-hitter. Texas finished the series with just seven hits over the final two games, with six of those being singles.
Offense like that makes it tough for any pitcher to get a win. The hitters know that, too.
"Over the last three years, it's out of the ordinary," said Josh Hamilton of the team's offensive struggles. "What's made us so good is if two or three guys weren't getting it done, someone else is getting it done and just carry it back and forth. If the top is getting it done and the bottom's not, or the bottom's getting it done and the top is not. Right now, nobody is. It is what it is. We go through it. It's not like this is never going to happen. We don't panic. We don't stress. We just go out and play."
Texas scored its lone run in the fourth on an RBI single to left from Adrian Beltre. That run snapped a 12-inning scoreless streak for the Rangers, but it wouldn't be a sign of things to come. Texas had just one hit after the fourth inning, and that came on a two-out single by Mitch Moreland in the eighth.