Week 1 of the 2015 season has come to an end for the Texas Rangers, though it took far longer Sunday than it should have, and as bad as things seemed over the first seven games, they could have been worse.
Only one member of the starting rotation and two of the five outfielders were injured.
The offense could have been shut out three times instead of twice.
The O.co Coliseum sewage system could have backed up.
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The Rangers could have lost five times or more. Instead, they finished the week at 3-4 after a 6-4 loss in 14 innings to the Houston Astros.
But it wasn’t the best week, with issues presenting themselves, and it ended on a down note. Hank Conger broke a 4-all tie in the 14th with a two-run homer, and right fielder George Springer made the play of the game in the 10th by sprinting back and leaping to rob Leonys Martin of a walk-off grand slam.
“We had some ups and downs, but I think it’s more good than bad,” catcher Carlos Corporan said of the first week. “We need to be more consistent. That’s going to be the key to us. But today, we had the chance to win the game. Bottom line, that’s all you can ask.”
There are more concerns after seven games than questions that were answered, first and foremost with the rotation after Derek Holland was lost to the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder injury after one inning of the home opener.
Already down Yu Darvish (Tommy John surgery), the Rangers will have to dip into the Triple A rotation or make a commitment to Anthony Bass, and try to hang on until Holland (shoulder), Martin Perez (Tommy John) and Matt Harrison (back) are expected to return in July.
Colby Lewis, though, had two nice starts even withstanding the four-run second inning Sunday in which the Astros hit two homers, a triple and a double. Lewis lasted 7 1/3 innings and allowed only three more hits.
Even a bullpen that is inexperienced and missing a few key parts showed well late in games in which the Rangers led or in games that were close. Neftali Feliz and Shawn Tolleson worked a scoreless inning apiece Sunday while pitching for the third straight day.
“I kind of got away from myself in the second inning and fell behind guys,” Lewis said. “They took advantage of it and put up the four spot in the second.”
The offense didn’t click consistently, with the two shutouts and only one game in which they hit home runs. If not for some eighth-inning ineptness by the Astros’ bullpen, the Rangers would have bowed out with their fourth game of two runs or less.
Martin had a two-run single in the seventh and nearly won it before Springer’s terrific catch, but the leadoff man still finished the week in a 1-for-22 skid and is batting .125 (4 for 32).
“I can’t believe he made that play,” Martin said. “I can’t believe it.”
Elvis Andrus is batting .161 (5 for 31). Rougned Odor, whose drive to right field with the bases loaded was chased down by Springer to end the game, is at .136 (3 for 22).
The Rangers left 15 on base against Houston, an indication that the offense is creating chances to score runs but is just missing the big hit.
“I think we’re just going out and trying sticking with an approach and make it work,” said Mitch Moreland, who admitted that the offense is still lagging. “We’ve had some bad games, and then some that haven’t been so good. But I think today was a great game. We created a lot of opportunities.”
The big picture is what matters to the Rangers, not what transpired over the first week of the season. They remain supremely confident that things are trending the right way and that they are a good ballclub, not one fraught with more concerns than answers after seven games.
“We’re playing the game,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “It’s still early. We’re still trying to battle though some things, but we’re putting ourselves in position to win games.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760