Manager Ron Washington had seen enough. He had to talk with his struggling Texas Rangers after Sunday’s performance.
The Rangers were shut out for a second consecutive game in a 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. The Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Cleveland for the first time since 1980, holding Texas to two hits.
The Rangers are in a free fall, losing eight of 10 since the All-Star break, and seeing the A’s pull away to a six-game lead in the American League West. Something had to be said.
“It looked like we were sleep-walking,” Washington said. “I’m not upset at my team. I’m just upset at the way we were playing. I’m not upset at my team because that’s my guys and I’m going to be on their ship until it sinks, if it has to, but I don’t feel it’s going to sink.
“I just thought there was a message that needed to be sent and everybody needs to be a part of it.”
Washington admitted he got on a roll, and the meeting lasted about 40 minutes. A few players and coaches also spoke up during the impromptu gathering.
“We had a good meeting,” outfielder David Murphy said. “I think everybody is on the same page and we’re ready to get back on track.”
Washington felt his team played well in the first two games of the series.
They battled back from a six-run deficit only to lose in extra innings on Friday, and Justin Masterson outpitched Yu Darvish on Saturday.
Sunday, though, “was just a different animal. I didn’t see what I thought were the Texas Rangers today,” Washington said.
Alexi Ogando started and couldn’t make it through five innings.
He opened with four scoreless innings before giving up a two-out RBI single to Jason Kipnis in the fifth.
Ogando was done after that, throwing 92 pitches to get his 14 outs.
Robbie Ross entered and got out of the fifth-inning jam before giving up three runs in the sixth. With two on and two out, Ross almost got out of it unscathed by getting Yan Gomes to flare a foul ball down the left-field line. Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre chased after it, but collided as the ball fell to the ground. Both players were OK and stayed in the game.
Two pitches later, Gomes singled to center to score a run and the next batter, Michael Bourn, had a two-run double.
That four-run lead, which turned into a six-run lead on a two-run homer by pinch hitter Mike Aviles in the eighth, was more than enough for Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez. He kept the Rangers quiet all day, scattering two hits over eight innings.
The Rangers’ best chance came in the fifth after the Indians had taken a 1-0 lead. They had runners on second and third with one out, but Mitch Moreland popped up to shortstop and Leonys Martin grounded out.
The Rangers had only two more base runners the final four innings, and haven’t scored a run in their past 21 innings.
Staying positive and bringing energy in the midst of this type of losing streak is difficult, the players said, but something they have to overcome.
“Win or lose, we should bring the same energy and the same enthusiasm to the field and same love for the game that we always have,” Murphy said. “We always prided ourselves on being a resilient team and that’s something that we’ve been up and down on this year.”
Said shortstop Elvis Andrus: “We have to stay positive, keep playing. The next two series are huge for us, playing our division. We can’t let bad things stand in our way.”
The Rangers’ losing skid has come during a stretch in which their past five series have been against contending teams. The upcoming schedule appears to be more favorable with nine of the next 10 series against sub-.500 teams.
But Washington wasn’t buying that as a potential difference maker.
“All of a sudden we’re going to be able to turn it on because we’re playing a sub-.500 team? No, it doesn’t work like that,” Washington said. “We’re just not playing the baseball we’re capable of playing. If we do, I don’t care who we’re playing and what their record is. We can beat them.”