A sweet, young girl was shown on the videoboard Saturday at Rangers Ballpark after the eighth inning, and she held below her chin a sign that read, “We want a home run.”
She flashed a shy smile when the camera found her, and she found herself on the big screen in right field, though it’s not known if she was embarrassed to be seen by the other 36,036 in attendance or by the outlandishness of her request.
Yu Darvish was pitching for the Texas Rangers, which ordinarily means their bats take the day off. At the very least they usually aren’t working when needed most.
That was the case yet again, as the Rangers lost yet again and yet again fell another game behind the Oakland A’s in the American League West.
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Brandon Moss doubled home the game’s only run with two outs in the first inning, and Darvish became the first pitcher in 24 years to lose four games by a 1-0 score in the same season.
The Rangers are 5 1/2 games back in the American League West with 15 games to go. The A’s proved last season that it’s not impossible to erase such a deficit, but the Rangers’ title hopes continue to fade away.
They are still one of the two wild-card teams, but just barely.
“From now on, every game is a must-win,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “We can’t take anything for granted. You’ve still got a lot of games. We don’t want the wild card. For sure we’re going to try to win the division.”
The key is just trying to win one game after a fifth straight loss on the six-game homestand. The Rangers are 2-10 this month and have lost 11 of 14 overall after a 20-7 August lifted them to the top of the division.
Manager Ron Washington said that there is nothing left to say to the players. He met with the team Sept. 8 in Anaheim, and held separate meetings with the hitters and the pitchers Friday.
“Base hit,” Washington said. “That’s all it is. I think I’ve been saying that for two weeks. A base hit. That’s all it takes.
“I’ve told them everything I can tell them. We’ve just got to go out there and in some situations when they present themselves, get it done. We haven’t been getting it done.”
Four of the past five losses have been by one run, and the other was by two.
Darvish, who struck out 10 batters for the 12th time this season, walked Josh Donaldson with one out in the first, and Moss followed two batters later with a liner down the right-field line that rattled around long enough for Donaldson to score from first.
Darvish (12-9) needed 46 pitches in the first two innings, but found the command on his four-seam fastball and dominated the rest of the way. Oakland didn’t have another runner get past first base, and Darvish allowed only three more singles.
But he became the first pitcher since Orel Hershiser in 1989 to lose four 1-0 games, and became the third AL pitcher with the dubious distinction. It happened to Billy Pierce with Chicago in 1955 and Hall of Famer Walter Johnson with Washington in 1916.
“As a pitcher, you can’t control how many runs are scored,” said Darvish, who hasn’t won his past six starts and has lost four straight decisions for the first time as a professional. “Those guys are trying their best. I respect all of them.”
The Rangers’ best chance to break through against Bartolo Colon (16-6) came in the eighth inning, when Andrus singled with one out and stole his 40th base of the season. Alex Rios followed with a fly ball to left field that allowed Andrus to tag and advance to third, but Adrian Beltre’s drive to right field was caught on the warning track.
“Find one hole and anything that can help us win games, we’re going to take it,” Beltre said. “We know the effort is there, we’re just not getting results.
“We’re not happy. We have an opportunity against a team we want to play, and we’re not doing enough to win.”