The All-Star break has mercifully arrived for the Texas Rangers.
Seldom has the franchise ever needed a break more.
The Los Angeles Angels completed a four-game sweep Sunday with a 10-7 win in front of 34,750 at Globe Life Park, extending the Rangers’ losing streak to eight, breaking the club’s previous futility streak of six consecutive losses before the break in 1976.
That club, which finished 76-86 and 14 games back in the American League West, looks like the ’27 Yankees compared to 2014.
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The season resumes Friday with a three-game series at Toronto. Yu Darvish (8-5), who will join teammate Adrian Beltre for the All-Star Game in Minneapolis, is scheduled to start.
“Everybody needs three or four days off to clear our minds and have some fun,” said Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who’s hitting .265 with 22 RBIs. “We know we can play a lot better baseball. Every single day we’re trying to find a way to do something different.
“I believe in myself and I know my teammates are going to play better baseball and turn things around.”
The Rangers’ eight straight losses matches a season high set in June. They’ve lost 22 of their last 25, a stretch of losing not seen from the club since 1972, the Rangers’ first year in Arlington.
The last time a team was mired in a worse streak, it was the Houston Astros going 2-23 during a stretch in 2012.
Barring a miraculous turnaround, Texas (38-57) will be playing its first pennant chase-free second half since 2009.
The decline has been sharp and thorough as injuries, starting in the off-season, have riddled the Rangers roster, leaving manager Ron Washington with a skeleton of his former team.
They’ve used 50 players, the most ever by a team before the All-Star break and five shy of the club record for a season. That includes a major league high 30 pitchers.
Ryan Feierabend, who made his first Rangers appearance in the seventh inning Sunday, is the latest call-up to help plug holes in the taxed bullpen.
But nothing has been able to slow the train from careening off the tracks. The Rangers have their fewest wins after 95 games since 1985.
This season didn’t start out so bad. But since the Rangers were 31-30 on June 6, they’ve gone 7-27. They’ve been swept seven times in 2014, including five times since June 20. The last time Texas won a series was a month ago in Seattle.
If the offense is scoring runs, the pitching is unable to hold the opponent. When the pitching has kept it close, the offense has been unable to produce.
“The bullpen, you could see, it’s dead,” Washington said. “We had to use them a lot. We have to figure out a way to get our starting pitchers deeper in ballgames.
“That’s a very relentless ballclub over there. Every time you make a mistake, they make you pay. Each inning we scored, except for one, they came back and answered. We’ve got to stop that kind of stuff.”
Parts of that script played out Sunday as the Angels (57-37) answered every Rangers attempt to make it interesting. After Texas took a 1-0 lead in the first, Los Angeles scored three in the second on Mike Trout’s blooping double that fell in shallow left.
The Angels added a run in the third, but the Rangers tied it at 4-4 with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Alex Rios drove in two with a double to the right-field corner.
But the Rangers’ pitching staff couldn’t keep a lid on the Angels’ offense. Starter Scott Baker left after allowing five runs on nine hits in four innings. Four bullpen pitchers combined to allow five runs on six hits over the final five innings.
Six of the Angels’ 15 hits were doubles, including two from Trout.
“I think the All-Star break’s going to be great for everybody, just to get a mental breather, [and hope to] just come back ready to kind of turn things around,” said rookie outfielder Jake Smolinski, one of the team’s few current bright spots, who’s batting .476 in seven games since being called up.
For now, the offense isn’t Washington’s biggest concern. A pitching staff with just six quality starts in the last 24 games has been a more glaring issue.
“My offense is going to be what it is,” Washington said. “You don’t need to look for any amazing turnarounds, other than Elvis having a better year going into the second half and [Shin-Soo] Choo picking it up as we go into the second half. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. But we have to pitch.”