The Texas Rangers’ main weakness was on display in a weekend series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Fortunately, help is on the way.
I’m not a glass-half-full guy when it comes to the Texas Rangers. The organization’s playoff history leaves a lot to be desired. Their first run of contention in the late nineties was always bested by one of the true Yankee juggernauts. This relegated the local team to also-ran status in the annals of professional baseball.
While the fan base has been mostly fortunate for the last eight years, there’s always been a stumbling block in the Rangers’ quest for post season glory. It can make one nervy. It can make fans apprehensive. Heartbreaking sports despair can leave one forever waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you ever get emotionally invested in sports, it’s just a natural byproduct to develop a pessimistic side, sometimes to a fault.
So forgive me for harping on the back end rotation problems that have besieged the Texas Rangers as they battle for the American League West crown. Yes, the division lead is still at a relatively comfortable six games, but the Seattle Mariners show no signs of going away despite blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning yesterday afternoon.
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As a matter of fact, the team that has fallen off a cliff is the Houston Astros. Where the Rangers once held a slim 2.5 game lead on July 27th, they’ve now widened to nine games better than Houston, and Seattle has since usurped the Astros for second in the AL West. This now appears to be a two-team race for the division.
Division concerns notwithstanding, the focus needs to be on what’s ailing the Rangers currently. After Cole Hamels was outstanding in Friday night’s 6-2 win, the drop off in starting pitching cannot be any more apparent. I’ll even spare AJ Griffin any grief over Saturday’s 8-2 loss. What we get with Griffin is essentially a poor man’s Yovani Gallardo. Griffin will battle. It is laborious and never efficient, but it is clear that he is focused and giving his level best.
The concern is Martin Perez. After being staked to a 2-0 lead in yesterday’s game, Perez gave up a run in the bottom of the third inning. The real damage, though, was done in the bottom of the fourth when the Rays put up five runs to go up 6-2. It was a lead they would not relinquish en route to a decisive 8-4 win.
All the while, Perez’s start was highlighted by him turning his back on catcher Robinson Chirinos when Chirinos attempted to come to the mound to get on the same page as his battery mate. Perez’s outing was also beset by long pauses in which he wandered behind the mound and generally pouted like a toddler. For every solid start he has, the need to be babysat during a rough start offsets his progress. It is frustrating to watch.
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In any event, the Texas Rangers will enjoy a rare day off today before a brief two game series in Cincinnati. Pitching help is on the way in the form of Derek Holland, who will return to the rotation on Tuesday. Underrated staff stalwart Colby Lewis is set for a rehab start on Wednesday. Their returns should provide some consistency for a starting rotation in dire need of some back end stability.