The three coldest places on the face of the earth are:
The Texas Rangers’ bullpen isn’t exactly a pizza oven right now.
Don’t let the abundant sunshine Sunday fool you. The press box was shaded, and the wind was blowing in all that cool air.
I get it. Something akin to, “Poor baby has to experience the elements like everyone else.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to type while wearing gloves?
The visiting writers from the warmer climates aren’t the only ones who complain. Scouts will vacate the stands for the warmth of the media dining room and watch the game on TV. The Seattle Mariners beat writers have become more vocal over the years.
The issue is that the Mariners’ PR staff has the option of not opening the clear garage doors that act as windows, yet they have never been closed. That’s the fault of the staff I can’t conjure.
The Rangers don’t return until September, when temperatures should be milder and four and five layers of clothing won’t be needed. Hopefully, the gloves, hoodie and stocking cap won’t either.
Maybe by then the Rangers’ bullpen will have heated up, too.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-3 loss to the Mariners.
1. Rangers Reaction is now very bullish on right-hander Andrew Cashner, who took a shutout into the seventh inning and dropped his ERA to 2.63 after five starts.
The overriding thought when looking at his unattractive numbers from last season with San Diego and Miami is that it’s remarkable what a pitcher can do when he doesn’t try to pitch through injuries.
That’s what Cashner did in 2016 while posting a 5.25 ERA. He had a chance to use injury as an excuse during an initial interview in spring training, but he declined. He was healthy enough, even though being healthy enough resulted in altering his mechanics and not being effective enough.
He’s been effective with the Rangers, with the six-walk start in four innings against Minnesota the outlier. He surrendered only two runs, though, before Anthony Bass poured a can of gasoline onto the fire.
On Sunday, Jose Leclerc was the arsonist. He walked three batters in relief of Cashner, who was bidding for his first win with the Rangers. Not even Alex Claudio, one of the Rangers’ few dependable relievers, could keep the fire from spreading. Sam Dyson lost it in the eighth by surrendering a homer to Rangers killer Kyle Seager.
Back to Cashner, who was charged with the first Mariners run. He has the look of a dependable starter, and that’s needed with Cole Hamels down and out for two months. With the bullpen as lousy as it has been, the rotation needs to remain the pitching staff’s strength and strengthen itself if possible.
The more innings a starter throws, the less time the bullpen has to implode.
2. Here’s a fun poll question: Which is worse?
A) The Rangers’ bullpen
B) The Rangers’ offense
C) Both are equally pungent
The easy answer is C, but the correct answer is A.
The relievers have an uncanny ability to blow games. Leclerc joined the circus Sunday after Keone Kela and Dario Alvarez’s performance under the big top Saturday. The six scoreless innings Friday were real and equally unreal.
Someone must be responsible for it, but who? Pitching coach Doug Brocail and bullpen coach Brad Holman have done a fine job with the starting rotation, so it seems highly unlikely that they’ve up and ignored the bullpen.
Manager Jeff Banister has raised the ire of some with his bullpen management, but to be fair, he’s just picking his poison with each decision.
General manager Jon Daniels put the team together and has a knack for not spending big dollars on the bullpen. But the arms that came back from last season were young and controllable and did the job months ago.
How about someone blame the pitchers? Most have done fine work in the past but aren’t now. A pitching coach, bullpen coach, manager and GM are only as good as their players. Right now, they aren’t looking very good.
The offense, meanwhile, is loaded with talent. Some of it is young talent. Some of it is veteran talent. Very little of the talent is showing up, especially with runners in scoring position.
The Rangers were 1 for 9 in those situations Sunday.
The lineup managed a whopping six hits. A good sign is that Jonathan Lucroy had two doubles to raise his average from .211 to .225.
The Rangers also managed to snap their AL-record streak of seven consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts. Somebody grab a bottle of champagne.
But they did produce a 3-0 lead Sunday before the bullpen got involved.
It’s uncanny, really, what the bullpen is doing.
3. Austin Bibens-Dirkx is a major leaguer. His service clock just started tick at age 32, and, to be completely realistic, it might not be ticking very long.
It took him 12 years bouncing around the minor leagues and independent ball for a reason. But he has his chance now after the Rangers added him to the roster Sunday morning, and nobody can take Sunday away from him.
Jeff Banister knows a thing or two about having only a small cup of big-league coffee, so he knows exactly what Bibens-Dirkx was feeling. The scene is played out a handful of times a season, and each one is worth seeing.
“It never gets old,” Banister said.
Bibens-Dirkx said that he has been through the highs and lows that come with being a baseball journeyman at age 32. There were times he thought that his day would never come, but he never let go of the dream he’d had since he was a youngster.
That’s what kept him coming back year after year on minor league deals or going to tryout camps just to find work. He finally found big-league work Sunday.
“I played indy ball twice,” he said. “That’s something I look back on and am glad I didn’t give up. I wanted to achieve my goal and kept pushing.”