Darvish outdueled as Rangers’ offensive swoon continues

05/16/2014 9:36 PM

05/17/2014 12:41 AM

Matt Harrison spoke on Friday knowing that his latest back injury could put an end to his career.

Martin Perez said that having season-ending Tommy John surgery is what would be best for his career.

Derek Holland reported that he’s ready to start a rehab assignment, but isn’t sure when he will start resuming his career.

Yet, for as wrecked as the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation is, not to mention the holes they have in the bullpen, pitching isn’t the primary problem.

The Rangers managed only three hits Friday and just two hits behind Yu Darvish, who had a shutout through seven innings but saw Toronto score twice in the eighth en route to a 2-0 victory to open a three-game series at Globe Life Park.

Drew Hutchison, who hadn’t won since April 1, limited the Rangers to three singles in the first shutout of his career. Not to take anything away from the 23-year-old, but he wasn’t exactly facing the ’27 Yankees.

Instead, he was facing a lineup full of hitters who haven’t met their own expectations and will sink the club if they don’t start clicking.

“If they don’t get it done, we’re not going to get it done,” manager Ron Washington. “I have quality guys out there. It’s just a matter of them getting their at-bats until something falls in place.

“Once you get close to the 100 at-bat mark, you figure that you’ve seen enough pitches and you’ve worked hard enough and things will fall in place. But they haven’t. That’s reality.”

Adrian Beltre singled in the first and Leonys Martin started the third with a single, but the Rangers didn’t collect another hit until Rougned Odor opened the ninth with a liner to the mound that Hutchison deflected into no-man’s land.

That was it in the Rangers’ third straight loss, aside from a walk to Martin to start the sixth. He made it to the third with two outs before Elvis Andrus bounced out.

Darvish (3-2) matched Hutchison (2-3) through seven innings, registering all 11 of his strikeouts before Erik Kratz and Anthony Gose opened the eighth with back-to-back bunt hits. Melky Cabrera doubled two batters later to bring in both runners.

“If I could hit, or if I could hit 50 home runs, which I can’t, there’s nothing to be frustrated about,” Darvish said. “I respect all my teammates. I believe in them. And also, the other pitcher was pitching pretty well tonight, too.”

First baseman Prince Fielder (0 for 3) and right fielder Alex Rios (0 for 3) said that the offense is remaining upbeat despite all the plate woes. The hitters continue to believe that they will start to produce.

As Judge Smails said in Caddyshack, “Well, we’re waiting.”

The Rangers were shut out for the second time in the past three games and the third time this season. They entered the opener of a three-game series with 4.07 runs per game, 12th in the 15-team American League.

Beltre (.259) and Fielder (.243) have been mostly a sinkhole in the middle of the lineup. J.P. Arencibia (.133) continues to defy the odds by holding onto a big-league job, though he has formed an effective working relationship with Darvish.

Geovany Soto and Jurickson Profar are missing, but it’s not like they’re .310/.420/.530 hitters. They’ll make the offense better, but their returns could be too late for the Rangers.

The players presently in the lineup, especially the first five, need to start producing to ensure that Soto and Profar will be playing for something once they come off the disabled list.

“We’re not where we want to be,” Rios said. “This is an offense that’s capable of doing a lot of damage. We haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I really believe, as far as I can see, that we are all very positive and still believing that we can still do some damage. It’s a little frustrating to not see the full power of our offense, but what can you do?”

They need to answer that question quickly in light of the injuries to the pitching staff.

Up next in the rotation are Robbie Ross, Nick Martinez, Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch. The offense can’t expect that quartet to bail them out. Darvish couldn’t do it Friday.

“Today, we should have won because Yu Darvish was pitching,” left fielder Shin-Soo Choo said. “He’s the best pitcher on the team, and one of the best in the league. When you lose, it’s like losing more than one game.”

The loss to Toronto only counted once against the Rangers.

But if the offense can’t solve what ails it, the losses are going to continue to pile up.

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