A beat writer is never really off even when he’s off from the beat.
Every game is watched in some form. Stories are ready. Opinions are formed.
Such was the case last week as Stefan Stevenson became a one-man show in order to allow me to watch my brother-in-law get hitched.
A few quick thoughts:
Good for Doug Brocail, though apparently there was nothing to see or read into there.
So long, Josh Hamilton.
As for Monday, well, it was nice to see Thad Levine.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
1. Martin Perez did it again — a quality start that left the Rangers disappointed because of one bad inning. On Monday, it was the fifth, which he opened with a 2-0 lead before walking three batters and allowing a bases-clearing double that put the Twins up 3-2.
Those three walks were Perez’s only three walks of the game, and the hit was one of the six he issued. When he left the game after his third strikeout, he did so with (sound the trumpets) a quality start.
Now, is Perez the reason the Rangers lost? Not the only reason. The Rangers missed a chance to pile on runs in the second, when Gallo popped out and Jonathan Lucroy grounded out with a runner at third, and in the fourth, when Lucroy struck out and Jurickson Profar bounced softly to shortstop.
Those missed opportunities bit them. Perez’s big bad inning, the other five zeroes, bit him and them.
The problem here is that this isn’t a one-off deal. Everyone knows at some point Perez is going to flirt with disaster in one inning. He has shown an ability to escape or limit damage. He has also shown that he can’t escape.
Maybe this is who Perez is as a pitcher. The Rangers believe he can get out of the trap. They’ve believed that for a few seasons now.
Whatever it is that bites him, whether his mind and mechanics speed up or whether he tries to be too perfect, he can’t seem to stop it from happening.
2. It’s true that Perez and other Rangers didn’t get much help from plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, who appeared to the Rangers to have a strike zone for the Twins and one entirely different one for the Rangers.
Is he why the Rangers lost? Nope. But he was at his worst when at key moments.
One was in the fifth, when Perez walked the .109-hitting Byron Buxton to load the bases. The 3-2 pitch landed inside the pitch tracker on TV and at mlb.com. It also landed in Lucroy and Perez’s pitch trackers.
“I saw the video and that was a good pitch,” Perez said. “The ball was on the box. I saw the video.”
Manager Jeff Banister got tossed by Marquez after he rung up Elvis Andrus on a pitch off the plate. Banister said that it was the first time he has been ejected for clapping his hands, but then he got his money’s worth.
Lucroy was caught looking at a pitch off the plate in the fourth, a key out with runners at second and third with one out. He also took a called strike two as the last batter in the ninth that caused his eyes to roll.
He also had a pretty good view of the pitches the Twins were taking that were called balls.
“I don’t like to make excuses, but all we ask is for consistency,” Lucroy said. “And I felt like from behind the plate, if we had the same zone then they don’t score those runs. You guys could all see on TV. I don’t have to go much farther than that. I felt like the zone was very inconsistent.”
So Marquez didn’t help the Rangers’ cause. But was he the reason they lost? Nope.
3. The Rangers continue to look for more from their left fielders, and Profar might be running out of rope as the apparent regular there.
He’s mired in a 1-for-18 skid that saw him twice make weak contact Monday. His defense has been good, but the Rangers need more production there than his .135 average. That’s 20 points better than Ryan Rua.
Granted, Profar drove in a run Sunday with that one hit. The Rangers got some production from DeShields on Thursday, at least when it mattered most on the walk-off hit in the 13th inning. He also has hits in all six career games against Minnesota, so maybe he gets another look in this series even though he’s batting only .118.
Then there’s this: Gallo, a third baseman, really likes to play left field and has shown that he can handle the position effectively. Adrian Beltre isn’t going to be injured forever, I think, so he will take over at third base eventually and leave Gallo without a position.
Unless the Rangers decide Gallo needs to stay in the lineup after Beltre returns. The only feasible place to do that is in left field. Otherwise, he needs to go to Triple A Round Rock and continue playing every day.
To let Gallo gather rust on the bench would be a disservice to him. A demotion wouldn’t seem especially fair at this point, but playing only twice a week with the Rangers wouldn’t do him any good.
The lack of production in left field isn’t doing the Rangers much good.