No city in the major leagues offers as good a setup for an out-of-town writer than San Diego, which is German for a whale’s .... never mind.
The airport is, essentially, downtown. There is no shortage of hotels, including the Left Field Marriott. That’s not the property’s official name, but it is literally across the street from left field at Petco Park.
The Gaslamp Quarter is terrific. The weather is usually phenomenal. The scenery — take that however you want — is pretty darn good, too.
It’s even really inconvenient to get out of town on getaway day, so it’s like San Diego forces writers to stay a whole extra night.
Perfect. So perfect that the three biggest non-World Series MLB events — All-Star Game, general managers meetings, winter meetings — should take place here. No one would complain.
Check that. At least one baseball writer would complain. Not this one.
As for the baseball in San Diego, it’s not very good. But the Texas Rangers made the home team look pretty good Monday.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-1 loss to the San Diego Padres.
1. It’s official: The Rangers are frustrated.
That’s not quorum, but it was enough to convey the feeling in the clubhouse.
The Rangers fell to 2-6 on the road trip and to 13-20 overall with a feeble offensive performance that is becoming the norm.
The hitters are pressing, Lucroy said.
“It’s human nature,” he said.
But he also said that, hey, it’s baseball, and DeShields said that it’s a long season.
“We’ve been saying that, but tomorrow might be the day,” he said.
Don’t bet on it. Jered Weaver is pitching, and though he’s ancient and throws 83 mph fastballs, he also knows the Rangers aren’t particularly adept at hitting off-speed stuff and laying off pitches out of the strike zone.
Those are two of the problems Banister identified for a lineup that doesn’t have a hot hitter in it. Elvis Andrus rates as the Rangers’ most consistent hitter, and he’s batting a team-best .280.
As Donald Trump would tweet, “Sad!” And, “Bad!”
But the following is not fake news: The Rangers are frustrated.
“I think everybody gets tired of losing,” Lucroy said. “But all you can do is keep working and keep fighting and hope it will turn around.”
2. The good news about the offense’s struggles against Trevor Cahill and three relievers is that the bullpen wasn’t in a position to blow another game.
How’s that for a silver lining?
The offense might have had its worst game of the season at Petco Park, where they had one hit through six innings and two hits overall. They did draw five walks and get plunked once, so there’s that, but scoring runs is pretty tough when a team has two hits.
Shin-Soo Choo was the star of the offense when he kept the Rangers from getting shut out by connecting for a solo homer in the seventh. He also walked and stole a base as the No. 8 hitter.
That rates as a big day for him after struggling on this road trip. He’s only 5 for 30 in the eight games with only two walks. That’s very un-Choo-like, especially after batting .357 with a .455 on-base percentage in eight games on the last homestand.
However, he still seems like a better choice toward the top of the lineup than Rougned Odor. One thought, though, is that if DeShields is getting on base, Odor will see more fastballs in the No. 2 hole as pitchers try to cut down on the stolen base.
Odor can hit fastballs. But pitchers know that and are burying him with curveballs. The only fastballs he’s seeing, Banister said, are show-me heaters out of the zone.
Maybe Choo will get some fastballs if DeShields is on base.
It couldn’t hurt, could it?
3. Martinez allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings to the National League team with the lowest batting average (.217). Two of the runs came on solo homers, but otherwise he and Banister weren’t dissatisfied with the outing.
Martinez is bidding to be in the rotation for the long haul, or at least as long as Cole Hamels is out. Tyson Ross, who threw live batting practice Monday and could be in the rotation at the end of the month, will take over for either Martinez or A.J. Griffin.
Of course, Ross has to avoid a setback, which he was unable to do last month on his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome. But he has found away to manage his back issues and feels like he can handle a heavier workload.
It’s coming, but Martinez could get as many as four more starts if Ross returns this month and more if Ross isn’t back until mid-June. Martinez has been OK in the rotation, with two good starts, a shaky one and a tweener Monday.
He’s one of the Rangers’ 12 best pitchers right now. Maybe he finds a spot in the bullpen if he loses he job to Ross, though with the Rangers so thin on starting pitchers in the minors, the club might be wise to keep him starting at Triple A.
But that’s if he goes back to Triple A. Right now, he’s in the rotation to stay for the foreseeable future.
That’s not the worst thing, honestly, but he needs to be better than he was Monday against the NL’s worst-hitting team.