The Texas Rangers’ offensive struggles continued Wednesday night.
For a team with all kinds of pitching issues in 2014, the offense has done a good job of keeping up.
In their 4-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, the Rangers let scoring opportunities slip in five of the first seven innings, including four times stranding a runner at third.
Texas was 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position until Ryan Rua’s single in the eighth scored Elvis Andrus for the Rangers’ lone run.
It has been that kind of week for Texas, which has seen its offense dry up since a 13-run gusher at Houston on Friday. The Rangers have scored three or fewer runs in 11 of their last 13 games. They’ve scored a combined seven runs in their last five games.
Although neither team’s offense was especially effective, the Royals did more with less to sweep the three-game series. Alex Gordon’s two-run homer in the fourth against starter Nick Tepesch broke a scoreless tie. It was Gordon’s 19th homer and 65th RBI.
“I fell behind and had to make some pitches and left it up over the plate and that’s kind of what he’s looking for in that situation,” said Tepesch, who allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits in 6 2/3 innings. “I just didn’t get it down where I wanted it.”
But the rut the Rangers’ offense is in right now requires a near shutout by a pitching staff that manager Ron Washington says has been steadily improved over the last couple of months. Texas has scored three or fewer runs in 79 games in 2014 and has dropped to 53-86 overall. The Rangers are 15-64 in those 79 games.
“We just haven’t been able to put enough runs on the board,” Washington said. “My starting pitching has been good for a while. They’ve been learning, and learning on the job. They can’t control how many runs we put on the board. All they can do is keep us in the game. And they’ve certainly been doing that.”
The Rangers finished the game 1 for 15 with RISP and were 3 for 28 in the series against KC.
They stranded a runner at third base in four of the first seven innings on Wednesday.
“We certainly put ourselves in position, we just couldn’t get the hit,” Washington said. “And it wasn’t just in one part of the lineup, it was up and down. It’s like almost everyone had an opportunity.”
Indeed, in each inning a runner was left at third, a different part of the order failed to come through.
In the second, Adrian Beltre was stranded when Leonys Martin lined out to third. In the third, Daniel Robertson was stranded when Alex Rios struck out. Beltre’s leadoff double in the fourth fizzled when Rua, Adam Rosales and Tomas Telis were retired in order.
In the sixth, Andrus was stranded after a leadoff double when Rios, Beltre and Rua were retired. And in the seventh, Robertson lined out to strand Martin at third.
“If you look at the pitches we swung at we actually didn’t give ourselves a chance to drive in those runs,” Washington said. “It was just pitch selection. If we had been a little bit more patient and gotten better pitches to do something with, maybe we would have had better results.
“[The Royals] can pitch but we still created opportunities for ourselves; we just didn’t cash them in. They scored four, we had a chance to score seven or eight and only got one.”