The Texas Rangers are 4-8 for the first time since 2006, before the Ron Washington Era began. They could easily be 8-4. They could be 10-2.
But they aren’t. They are playing .333 ball after two weeks.
To say that the Rangers have only one problem area isn’t accurate. They have four, all of which showed up Sunday.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners and a three-game sweep.
1. The funny thing, maybe funny isn’t the right word, is that Sam Dyson had his best stuff of the season Sunday when he went out and blew his third save of the season.
Is that ironic? Guess it doesn’t really matter.
Whether a closer has good stuff, bad stuff or so-so stuff, he must figure out how to get those final three outs without surrendering the lead. Dyson is 0 for 3, plus he allowed three ninth-inning runs in a tied game Opening Day.
Dyson was the choice Sunday because, well, he was still the closer. Tony Barnette, Alex Claudio, Jeremy Jeffress and Matt Bush all pitched when they normally would, and so did Dyson coming off a scoreless, pressure-free ninth inning Saturday in a 5-0 loss.
He didn’t help himself at all Sunday, turning a chopper into an infield single to open the inning by deflecting it away from shortstop Elvis Andrus. Dyson then cut off a charging Joey Gallo to field a bunt, only to fail to record an out.
Dyson was trying to make plays, so manager Jeff Bansiter didn’t fault him too much. Walking in a run? Yeah, that was on Dyson.
Did he have some bad luck? Sure. Is that the reason he blew the game? Nope.
A change is coming, even if only temporary. Has to be. But who?
Bush is the people’s choice, and he had no soreness in his shoulder after blowing away three Mariners in the eighth in his first game since getting a cortisone injection in his AC joint.
Jeffress has closing experience, but he’s a lot like Dyson. They throw heavy sinkers and don’t strike out a ton of batters.
Here’s what’s not going to happen: Dyson is not going to be sent to Triple A Round Rock, nor are the Rangers just flat going to cut him. Anyone who believes in the latter needs to apply some logic to their thinking.
It also didn’t sound like Keone Kela is on the way to the Rangers, though Banister didn’t explicitly say so. The Rangers don’t have room for him unless they want to risk losing Rule 5 pick Mike Hauschild, who would have to clear waivers and then not be taken back by the Houston Astros.
The first one is possible, maybe even likely after his start and that he comes with Rule 5 status. The guess here is the Astros would take him back.
There should be some news on the closer front Monday before a three-game series at Oakland.
Something has to be done.
2. Cole Hamels has been a tough one to put a finger on so far this season, and he feels the same way.
He has done his No. 1 job, giving the Rangers a chance to win, in all three of his starts. In fact, he left all three with the lead. The first two resulted in blown saves by Dyson. Barnette couldn’t hold the lead Sunday.
But Hamels hasn’t been as good as he would like. Even last week when he allowed one run in seven innings, he threw only 51 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
His strike percentage was better at Safeco Field, but the results weren’t any better. He was done after five innings in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on 95 pitches. He cut down on his walks, from four to two, but it was a battle.
Hamels said he knows what he needs to do, and he knows that five innings from him is unacceptable. He put the bullpen in a bind by not going deeper, and that had a domino effect on the late innings.
He isn’t the only starter who had encounter problems pitching efficiently enough to work in the later innings.
The smart money is on Hamels finding his feel for the strike zone sooner rather than later. Don’t expect this to continue over the next, oh, 31 starts.
What if it did? Would the Rangers take Hamels giving them a chance to win all 31 times?
Maybe from Martin Perez, but they need Hamels to do more at the top of the rotation.
He will, but through three starts he’s been tough to put a finger on.
3. The offense fell into a familiar pattern Sunday, one that has bitten them a few times already this season. They couldn’t tack on runs after taking a big early lead, and it came back to bite them.
They had chances in the sixth, seventh and eighth, even after Joey Gallo saw a two-run home run taken away from him on a leaping catch by Mitch Haniger. Twice Rougned Odor failed to deliver, popping out in the sixth with runners at first and third and flying out to the wall in right field with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh.
Andrus struck out to end the eighth with the bases loaded again before Nomar Mazara connected in the ninth for a short-lived 7-6 lead.
To put blame on the offense might be nit-picking, though Banister said last week that the coaches stressed the need to keep piling on the runs. Failing to do so can come back to bite a team, and it’s bitten the Rangers four times this season.
4. It might not have made a difference in the final outcome, but the first run allowed by the Rangers was unearned after Hamels’ throw on a first-inning pick-off try ended up getting past first baseman Mike Napoli.
The play move Guillermo Heredia into scoring position, and he scored as Nelson Cruz muscled a quality 0-2 pitch from Hamels into left field for a broken-bat bloop single.
Dyson’s two plays didn’t go as errors, but they were. Though a pitcher can’t be blamed for instinctively trying to stop balls back to him, Dyson said he should have known better than to try to deflect the Jarrod Dyson chopper to start the ninth.
He took full blame for a mental lapse when he fielded Leonys Martin’s bunt and didn’t know where to go with the ball.
The Rangers were next to last in fielding percentage entering Sunday, trailing only Oakland. The A’s were rained out, so the Rangers might find themselves at the bottom in the morning.
Teams can’t win playing that kind defense.
5. The Rangers headed to Oakland on Sunday night for a three-game series Monday-Wednesday at Oakland Coliseum, where it rained enough Sunday to rain out the A’s game with the Houston Astros.
No word yet on if the plumbing was affected. It often is by rain. Yikes.
Anyhoo, Stefan Stevenson has the beat for the Oakland series and the four-game series at home Thursday-Sunday. Expect plenty of snarky tweets from him as he soaks in Oakland Coliseum for the first time.