Texas Rangers must regroup with A’s rolling into town

Posted Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Tough stretch A look at the Rangers’ next three opponents:
TeamOverall recordVs. Rangers
Tampa Bay79-661-2
Kansas City77-691-2
Rangers on September struggles Joe Nathan: “We can’t even look at standings right now. If we’re focused on that, we’re focused on the wrong things.” Matt Garza: “We’re playing catch-up now, and I don’t think we saw ourselves in this position, but we’re going to be resilient and keep fighting. That’s all we can do.” Adrian Beltre: “Whatever happened in this series [against Pittsburgh] we’re going to wash it off and not think about it. We’ll come back Friday and battle against Oakland. No other options. We’ve got to look forward and try to find a way to stay more consistent in every phase of the game.” Elvis Andrus: “We still have a goal in front of us and we’re not going to sleep until we get it. If we start thinking about negative stuff, you’re looking for a reason not to do the right things. If we leave everything we have on the field, we’re going to be in really good shape.” Ron Washington: “These [losses] have pennant-race ramifications. But pennant-race pressure? Those that feel pressure in a pennant race won’t be in a pennant race. I don’t feel any pressure. I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing.”

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Joe Nathan needed only a few seconds and a few words to describe the Texas Rangers’ feelings heading into their final off-day of the season.

It wasn’t a pleasant assessment, to say the least, after the Pittsburgh Pirates swept the Rangers with a pivotal series against the A’s on the horizon.

“Like [crap],” Nathan said. “There’s no other way to put it. When you get swept by a team in a big series, it’s not a good feeling. Good time for an off-day when you’re playing like this.”

September hasn’t gotten off to a promising start for the Rangers, who trail the A’s by 3 1/2 games in the division. The No. 1 issue has been from the offensive side. The lineup has rallied late in the past two games, although the Rangers were never able to take the lead.

The pitching staff has been solid, but when the team has needed a shut-down inning, it hasn’t delivered. There have also been mental lapses on defense and on the base paths.

The good news for the Rangers is that there are 17 games left to turn it around.

“We still have time, and we’ll know how far we have to dig ourselves out by Friday,” Nathan said. “We’re not going to stop. Right now, it’s about pulling ourselves out of this. We need to get back to simplifying the game and get back to fundamentals, and hopefully the day off will do exactly that.”

It won’t be easy to get back on track, though. The A’s come to town this weekend, and then the Rangers are on the road at a pair of wild-card contending teams in Tampa Bay and Kansas City.

The Rangers have the edge in the season series against the A’s, winning nine of 16 games. They also have winning records against Tampa Bay (2-1) and Kansas City (2-1).

But the A’s have played better than the Rangers of late, and have two of their best pitchers, Bartolo Colon and Jarrod Parker, pitching the final two games of the series. That’s not an ideal formula for a reeling offense.

“It’s never easy,” said Adrian Beltre, who is batting .205 in September after posting a .381 average in August.

“We’re not playing Little League here. It’s not going to be easy, but we believe we can do a better job than we’ve done the last 10 days or so. What better way to start than against Oakland?”

The Rangers will rival the A’s starters with their three best pitchers: Derek Holland on Fridayt, Yu Darvish on Saturday and Martin Perez on Sunday.

Holland is coming off two of his rougher outings, but feels he’s ready to move past “that bump in the road.” Darvish is fresh off his third 1-0 loss of the season, but was able to joke about being the first AL pitcher in 40 years to have something like that happen to him. And Perez is confident he can rebound after his string of six straight wins came to an end Tuesday.

“It is a big series, but we’ve just got to relax and play our game,” Holland said.

Said Darvish: “It’s an important series coming up, but every start I always take the same approach — do my best. It’s never good to think too much ahead.”

That includes reading too much into the standings. Everybody within the clubhouse is well aware of where the Rangers stand in relation to the A’s and also in the wild-card chase.

The division standings are checked upon most frequently, of course; winning a division title means more than earning a spot in the one-game wild-card round. But, for now, the focus is getting it back together on the field because, if not, there might not even be a postseason.

“We can’t even look at standings right now,” Nathan said. “If we’re focused on that, we’re focused on the wrong things. We’ve got to get back to playing sound baseball.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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Friday, September 19Full Scoreboard
Los Angeles «14Final | Box
Chicago Cubs5
Boston3Top 9th | Box
Baltimore3@theBallpark | TV: NESN, MASN
Toronto3Final | Box
NY Yankees «5
Milwaukee2Final | Box
Pittsburgh «4
Washington «3Final | Box
Chicago WSox4Top 9th | Box
Tampa Bay3@theBallpark | TV: CSN-CHI, Sun Sports
NY Mets2Top 9th | Box
Atlanta0@theBallpark | TV: SNY, FSN-S
Arizona2Top 7th | Box
Colorado11@theBallpark | TV: FSN-AZ, ROOT-RM
Seattle8Top 6th | Box
Houston2@theBallpark | TV: ROOT-NW, CSN-HOU
Detroit10Bottom 6th | Box
Kansas City0@theBallpark | TV: FSN-DET, FSN-KC, ESPN 2
Cleveland4Top 8th | Box
Minnesota3@theBallpark | TV: STO, FSN-N
Cincinnati1Top 8th | Box
St. Louis2@theBallpark | TV: FSN-OH, FSN-MW
Philadelphia0Bottom 2nd | Box
Oakland2@theBallpark | TV: CSN-PHI, CSN-CA
Texas1Top 1st | Box
LA Angels0@theBallpark | TV: TXA-21, FSN-W, MLB Net
San Francisco0Top 1st | Box
San Diego0@theBallpark | TV: CSN-BA, FSN-SD, MLB Net
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Tampa Bay14Final | Box
Atlanta «56Gridiron Replay
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Green Bay 1:00 PM ET
Detroit TV: FOX
Indianapolis 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
New Orleans TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
NY Giants TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FOX
Dallas 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FOX
San Francisco 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Kansas City 4:25 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Denver 4:25 PM ET
Seattle TV: CBS
Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET
Carolina TV: NBC
Chicago 8:30 PM ET
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