The Texas Rangers fell to the Oakland Athletics Monday in an important game one of a three game series. This was a painstaking loss as Texas gave up sole possession of first place in the AL West and now shares that position with Oakland.
There is no reason, at this point, to lose faith in the Rangers. This is just one game in an otherwise very successful winning streak. However, it is necessary that Ron Washington and the Rangers correct a few issues that have come to my attention if Texas is going to come home with the pennant.
Bumps in the Rangers’ road
This season Coco has shown spurts of power from time to time. He has recorded seventeen big flies on the season and has three in the last week. Right now he is on one of those hot streaks and the Rangers would do well to pitch around the slugger for the rest of this series, assuming he returns to play (right shin contusion).
Coming up empty
The Rangers were 0-9 with runners in scoring position in Monday’s game vs the A’s. They are 1-24 over the last four games with runners in scoring position. No club can win games solely on triples and home runs. Texas needs to get back to its fundamentals and play ball one at bat at a time, moving runners over from base to base.
Andrus has been sidelined for the last couple games with a back injury. Aside from providing the energy and enthusiasm in the dugout, Andrus is also the best small-ball player on the team. Elvis is the player who scores those runners in scoring position or gets a hit and then steals a base to put himself in scoring position. The Texas Rangers need to hope that Andrus returns to the lineup soon so they can get back to doing what they do best.
There is no denying that Yu Darvish is one of the best starters in Major League Baseball. However, the guy can’t buy a win right now; he hasn’t recorded a win since August 12th vs Houston.
I will be one of the many to argue that this is not Yu’s fault. He has gone deeper than six innings in his last four starts and hasn’t allowed more than three runs. While those are not phenomenal numbers, they are still very decent. On top of that, he only had one loss in the whole month of August. The Rangers have not been able to back up their ace with the run support that he needs to win ball games. While Yu doesn’t need to change much in his approach to the game, the Rangers lineup needs to put some runs on the board while he is on the mound.
The Texas Rangers need to correct these few mistakes quickly because they cannot afford to slack off here at the beginning of the last month of the regular season. After this current series in Oakland, the Rangers head south to play the Angels, then host the red-hot Pirates and the A’s before they head to Tampa Bay to take on the Rays. These could all be tough match ups if the Rangers are unable to bring home their men in scoring position. The second half of the month should be a breeze as they play the Royals and the Astros, but it is crucial that they are successful in the first half of the month in order to clinch the pennant.