Rangers can rely only on themselves in final games

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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lebreton You know that dream, the one where you’re running, running, running after someone … but you just can’t catch up?

Welcome to the final restless regular-season days of the 2013 Texas Rangers.

Don’t bother watching the out-of-town scoreboard. There are no angels — no White Sox or Yankees, either — stepping up to help the Rangers.

Instead, manager Ron Washington’s club will have to play the hand that it has dealt itself, as lean as those odds may be.

On Tuesday night, that meant scratching for every run in a 3-2 win over the last-place Houston Astros.

It meant making the most out of barely five innings of pitching — again — from starter Yu Darvish.

It meant the Rangers’ offense struggling — again — against Astros starter Brad Peacock and leaving itself with little room to exhale.

All they can do is all they can do. The rest is in somebody else’s hands.

Somebody like the New York Yankees, who opened a home series Tuesday against the wild-card-contending Tampa Bay Rays.

Really, Yankees? With your own postseason chances on the line and the added karma of Mariano Rivera’s Bronx farewell, you get blown out by Tampa Bay 7-0? Really?

And somebody like the Chicago White Sox, who coughed up a 4-3 lead over the wild-card-crazy Cleveland Indians with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Didn’t we learn, back in 1919, not to trust the White Sox?

Five games remain in the Rangers’ regular season. To make the American League wild-card playoff game, they’re likely going to have to win all five.

As the out-of-town scoreboard reminded Tuesday, don’t expect any help from the Rays and Indians, who have their teeth locked around the wild card’s first two spots.

As for Darvish’s help, who knows?

For the third time in his last five starts, Darvish failed to make it out of the sixth inning. As with the other two short outings, his command on Tuesday was spotty.

He labored in the first inning when he walked two and allowed Houston its first run. And when an Ian Kinsler run-scoring single gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead going into the sixth, Darvish promptly fell behind in the count to Matt Dominguez and allowed a game-tying home run.

When he walked Trevor Crowe one out later, Washington lifted Darvish after 101 pitches.

It wasn’t a poor performance. He only gave up three singles and the home run. But the trend through Darvish’s September starts has to be concerning to Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux.

He’s now pitched 204 innings this season and made 31 starts. He’s still tough to hit and still leads the major leagues in strikeouts.

But local members of the Japanese media, who exhaustively cover every Darvish word and pitch, have begun to wonder whether something physical is bothering him or if he’s hit the proverbial wall.

Darvish’s bullpen session in Kansas City last weekend was tallied by his homeland media at only 21 pitches. When he was asked about his health, Darvish — in Japanese — answered that it was nothing that he couldn’t deal with.

It’s not his arm or shoulder, but something else, perhaps his hip. When he left the mound in the sixth inning Tuesday night, Darvish’s walk to the dugout seemed noticeably slow.

But maybe it was just me. You know that dream, the one where everything seems to slow down, even when it’s not?

Welcome to the Rangers’ final week.

There is no time for Darvish, hip-sore or just tired, to miss a start. His next one could come Sunday against the Angels with the Rangers needing to win on the season’s final day to make the playoffs.

This is the hand they’ve dealt themselves. All the Rangers can do is win.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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