Texas Rangers

July 3, 2014

Rangers’ decision to scratch Darvish backfires in loss to Orioles

The Rangers try to do the right thing with the threat of rain, but it ends up being all wrong as reeling Texas is swept in Baltimore.

A game delayed by rain or shortened by rain would have been a waste of right-hander Yu Darvish.

So, the Texas Rangers scratched their ace, the only one who really gives them a chance to win each time out unless he’s facing Oakland, from his scheduled start Thursday against Baltimore.

And right on cue, the clouds moved out from the downtown area, and the storms that had been approaching either put on the brakes, stayed clear of Camden Yards, or dissipated altogether.

“I thought I made the right decision,” manager Ron Washington said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t want to lose Yu Darvish.

“We had a storm coming up from D.C. It could hit us or it could miss us. It was on the radar. I saw it. It just missed us.”

Even when the Rangers do the right thing, it ends up being all wrong.

That, it appears, is life for a team sinking toward last place in the American League West.

The cellar got a little closer after a 5-2 loss that completed a four-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. The Rangers, who have lost five straight and nine in a row on the road, are 11 games below .500 and only 1 1/2 games up on last-place Houston.

“Their bats came alive over there,” Washington said. “We didn’t score enough runs. We didn’t stop some innings. They played better than us.”

Maybe the combination of Darvish and the New York Mets, also 37-48, will get the Rangers going. Darvish is 6-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his career against National League teams, and the Mets are batting only .239 this season.

Then again, it sounds like a perfect setup for the Rangers to be snake-bitten again.

They actually didn’t play poorly Thursday. Scott Baker allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings after being pressed into a spot start, and a joint decision by Washington and his coaching staff to include some left-handed hitters against Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen produced both Rangers runs and a brief 2-1 lead.

But that dissipated as quickly as all those forecast rain showers, which were suppose to cover 90 percent of the area. Once behind after two Orioles runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh, the Rangers’ low-octane offense had a zero percent chance of coming back.

Baker issued back-to-back doubles to start the Orioles’ fifth after Shin-Soo Choo had swatted the Rangers’ first homer of the series in the top half to break a 1-1 tie. Baltimore added another when Steve Pearce, who went 4 for 5 and 7 for 15 with three homers and 8 RBIs in the series, doubled with one out.

The Rangers had warned Baker on Wednesday that he might be the starter. Without consistent work, though, he can’t sustain his arm strength and admitted to tiring in the fifth.

He didn’t pitch badly. He just isn’t Darvish.

“With the way the weather was, it was a game-time decision,” Baker said. “Yu is Yu. He’s very special. For me to try to be like Darvish, that’s not going to happen. We came up with a quick game plan for me and basically stuck to it.”

In the seventh, Ben Rowen issued a one-out double to Nick Markakis, who slapped a grounder down the left-field line against an infield that was aligned for him to pull the ball.

Later in the inning, after an Adam Jones sacrifice fly and an intentional walk to Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis won a same-sided matchup against Neal Cotts to make it 5-2.

Cotts was beaten for a second straight night by a left-handed hitter. They are hitting .291 against the Rangers’ most-trusted bullpen lefty. They batted only .204 against him a year ago.

That’s life for a team headed for the cellar.

“That’s what it looks like, but you can’t see it that way,” right fielder Alex Rios said. “You never expect to be in this situation that we are now. It’s almost impossible to imagine this season. It’s tough.”

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