The second half got off to a promising enough start for the Texas Rangers, but by the end of the weekend it was back to the drawing board.
The Rangers lost their fifth consecutive series as the Toronto Blue Jays took Sunday’s finale 9-6 at the Rogers Centre. Texas has lost 11 of its past 14 series (which includes a two-game split) and lost 10 of its past 11 games.
July continues to be a nightmare for the team as its record dropped to 2-14 this month and 39-59 overall.
“We played good against them, just didn’t play good enough,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington, who met with the team before and after the All-Star break about keeping their composure during this stretch of losing.
“I’m not upset with the way we’re playing. The offense put us in position to win some ballgames. We just have to pitch better. We have to shut down innings. That’s all the chance we’ve got. Get the momentum on our side.”
The loss in the series finale didn’t come without a fight, at least, as the Rangers battled back from deficits of 3-0 and 5-2 before tying the game with a three-run sixth inning.
Daniel Robertson, starting in place of injured outfielder Alex Rios, tied it with a two-run single. Geovany Soto started the rally with his first hit of 2014 and later scored on a balk when Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle tripped in his windup.
Robertson was picked off and caught stealing to end the inning, which appropriately captures what the Rangers are going through in 2014.
Sunday’s starting lineup included six players who’ve spent time in the minors this season
To hammer that point home, the Blue Jays regained the lead 6-5 on Melky Cabrera’s solo homer off Neftali Feliz to lead off the seventh. It came on an 87-mph changeup that Feliz (0-1) left up and over the plate.
“We fought and fought, we just ran out of innings,” said Robertson, who had a career-high four RBIs, including a two-run single in the third that pulled Texas to within 3-2.
“When you lose, [the RBIs] are not really for anything. Getting picked off in that inning, that was kind of frustrating. We had Buehrle on the ropes there and then I let him off. You’ve got to keep your focus.”
Toronto added three more runs in the eighth against Matt West, who allowed five hits, including a two-run single to right from Cabrera.
Elvis Andrus singled and scored a run in the ninth, and the Rangers brought the tying run to the plate with two outs, but pinch hitter J.P. Arencibia popped out to end the game.
Texas left 21 runners on and was 4 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
Rangers starter Nick Tepesch allowed five runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Dioner Navarro started a three-run second with a solo homer to right-center. Jose Reyes’ two-run single made it 3-0.
“They put some good swings on some balls, but I made some mistakes, too,” Tepesch said. “Any time the offense puts up some runs, your job as a pitcher is to go out there and throw up a zero.”
But that hasn’t been happening lately for Texas. After the Rangers scored twice in the third, Toronto responded with a run in the bottom of the inning.
“You score runs, you have to put up a zero,” Washington said. “We can’t let a team come back after we score runs. Every time we just couldn’t stop them.”