They said all the right things.
General manager Jon Daniels feels the Texas Rangers are still in good position, and he’s always going to bet on his team. Alex Rios believes the energy level hasn’t changed and the team remains optimistic about finishing strong. Joe Nathan isn’t concerned about the standings and is only worried about getting back in the win column.
But it’s hard to put a positive spin on the worst homestand in club history that ended with a 5-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon. Never before have the Rangers gone winless on a homestand of at least six games, and the first time couldn’t have come at a worse time as the fans’ boos suggested.
The Rangers began the homestand with division title hopes, but have now positioned themselves as wild-card contenders. They started the homestand trailing the A’s by 11/2 games in the American League West and are now 61/2 games back with 14 to play.
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They do remain tied with the Rays for the top wild card spot, although it’ll be a dogfight to stay there. The Indians are only a half-game back, and the Yankees and Royals are within striking distance.
“I am disappointed,” manager Ron Washington said of the A’s series. “I certainly expected us to respond better, but they out-pitched us. They certainly out-hit us, they punched the ball out of the ballpark. And they outscored us. The name of the game is to score runs and we just didn’t do it.”
The Rangers, who never led during the homestand and left 47 men on base, had their chances once again Sunday.
The day started off with seemingly good news for the Rangers, too, when the A’s scratched Yoenis Cespedes, who is batting .373 in September. Oakland also made a late pitching change when Jarrod Parker came down with an illness. Left-hander Tommy Milone, who had never beaten Texas in five career starts, made the emergency start.
Nothing, though, is helping the Rangers these days. Milone held the Rangers to one run over five innings, and four relievers closed it out by pitching out of jams.
The Rangers scored only one run on 10 hits, stranding 10 runners and going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. For the A’s series, they combined to hit 2 for 24 with RISP.
“It hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to,” said Ian Kinsler, who went 0 for 5 Sunday. “Am I surprised? Yeah, I guess.”
Trailing 2-1 in the second, the Rangers had a chance with runners at first and second with one out. But Kinsler flew out and Elvis Andrus lined out. They had runners at first and second with one out again in the fourth, but Craig Gentry flew out and Kinsler struck out.
The best chance might have come in the sixth. Jurickson Profar had a one-out single and moved to third on a single by Jim Adduci, but pinch hitter David Murphy flew out to shallow left and Leonys Martin popped out to short.
Rios and Adrian Beltre had consecutive two-out singles in the seventh only to see that threat end on a pop-up by Pierzynski.
“I’m not sure what’s going on,” Washington said. “I’ve never witnessed it before. Opportunities were there again, we just didn’t cash them in. That’s all I can say.”
The Rangers found themselves in another early hole as well. Starter Martin Perez gave up two runs in the first inning, including a solo homer to Josh Donaldson, and Chris Young took him deep in the third to make it 3-1.
That was all Perez allowed over 61/3 innings, and the A’s didn’t score again until Josh Reddick had a two-run homer off Joakim Soria in the ninth to seal the game.
Maybe getting back on the road will help revive the Rangers. They are 42-32 away, compared with 39-35 at home. And, despite the worst homestand in club history, they are still in the postseason mix.
“We’re still in the race and we need to stay focused,” Andrus said. “That’s the biggest thing for us. Turn the page and go out there and play hard the next game, the next at-bat. Whatever happened, happened. Just turn the page.”