As was the case last season, each time Adrian Beltre gets a hit of some sort, he moves past one of the game’s greats.
On Friday, Reggie Jackson fell to Beltre’s surge toward Also on the Hall of Fame.
Beltre collected two extra-base hits, a double and a home run, to give him 1,076 in his career. That’s 24th in history, one ahead of Mr. October.
Up next on the career hits list for Beltre, who has 2,948, is Willie Keeler at No. 33 with 2,955. Up next on the homer list for Beltre, who has 446, are Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero at 29th with 449.
Beltre is doing his part in his first four games of the season, going 6 for 15. He’s the only reason the Rangers weren’t shut out by the Houston Astros.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 7-1 loss.
1. The inevitable, as first reported Thursday night, became official Friday, when the Rangers designated Sam Dyson for assignment with the full intention of trading him rather than trying to sneak him through waivers.
The prevailing thought is Dyson wouldn’t make through all 29 teams without being claimed. He had no minor-league options remaining.
So, he has thrown his last pitch for the Rangers in all likelihood and taken a nosedive from grace in only two months. After watching him pitch for Team USA, it looked like he was in for an amazing season.
It’s been amazing, all right.
The chain of events Wednesday went like this:
Matt Bush allows a two-out game-tying home run in the ninth to blow a save.
The Rangers, unwilling to let Bush pitch more than an inning because of his AC joint issues and staying away from Keone Kela, Tony Barnette and Dillon Gee, called upon Dyson to pitch the 10th.
The Tampa Bay Rays went homer, out, out, error, homer to take a 7-4 lead en route to a 7-5 win.
After the media left the clubhouse, Dyson was summoned to manager Jeff Banister’s office. There, general manager Jon Daniels delivered the news, which Dyson seemed to take professionally enough.
Upon reaching his locker and telling his teammates the news, Dyson broke down along with several other teammates.
Tough deal, for sure, because, think about it, the Rangers probably don’t go to the postseason in 2015 without Dyson and don’t go as comfortably in 2016 without him.
He and Jake Diekman overhauled the 2015 bullpen at the trade deadline with power that was lacking. Dyson took over as closer for Shawn Tolleson in mid-May and finished the season with 38 saves. Many of those came in tight one-run games.
The Rangers, from Daniels to Banister to every teammate asked, made sure to point out the impact Dyson had on the franchise in less than two calendar years. All those cheering his DFA should remember that.
One thing the Rangers didn’t consider was finding something physically wrong with Dyson, like they did with his bruised hand earlier in the season, and stash him away on the disabled list. There is a way to put a player on the DL for mental purposes, usually anxiety, but it’s difficult to pull off.
There is also the likelihood that Dyson wouldn’t have agreed to such a DL move, as he wouldn’t want that on his permanent record. Had the Rangers held onto him, he would have been a strong possibility to be non-tendered in the off-season. Teams might have shied away from a reliever with “anxiety issues,” even if they were trumped up.
The Rangers believe that Dyson was at the end of his rope mentally, unable to figure out why he wasn’t performing up to his capabilities. The Rangers themselves were flustered, too, as they checked and rechecked their notes and video to find a solution.
Sleep was lost, as the coaching staff felt they failed Dyson.
One thing that was pointed out by a trusted baseball source: Dyson’s best pitch, the sinker, is best when it’s a ball. If umpires aren’t calling the low strike and/or hitters are laying off, they get ahead in the count and have the advantage.
Whatever the cause, Dyson’s failure was sudden and shocking, and there was no longer time to let him figure it out and no longer any way a team that considers itself a contender could hide him.
The transaction that became official Friday was inevitable.
2. The Rangers got the bad version of Yu Darvish, and that’s really not all that bad. But it’s wasn’t good enough as the Rangers opened a series that could jump-start them over a critical stretch.
Darvish allowed three runs, which doesn’t sound bad, though in five innings on 104 pitches. Not good. The three runs came with two outs in the fifth as the Astros went single, double, home run.
Even if Darvish doesn’t hang a slider to Carlos Correa and instead strikes him out as in his first two at-bats, he likely pitches in the sixth and all is good. But he didn’t, and when pitted against Dallas Keuchel that’s not good enough.
Darvish is now 5-4, and his ERA climbed to 3.13. The Rangers will take that, because, well, it’s pretty good.
But it could be better, and it doesn’t seem like it would take much for Darvish to get there.
The home run to Bautista didn’t kill him at Toronto. It was the walk to the No. 9 hitter hitting under .100. The Correa homer was a dagger, though no doubt the result of the accumulation of pitches.
Of course, Darvish is no stranger to pitching inefficiently. High pitch counts typically cost him an extra inning, though usually it’s the seventh or eighth.
On Friday, his high pitch count after five cost him the sixth.
Darvish has been much worse, but, considering the circumstances, he needed to be better.
3. In the course of explaining the Dyson decision, Daniels said that the Rangers still consider themselves contenders despite trailing the Astros by a whopping 12 games (it’s now 13 after the loss), but they need to be realistic as upcoming deadlines approaches.
The question that prompted the answer was in regards to acquiring help for the bullpen. Daniels said that trades just don’t happen this time of year, with all teams hunkered down for the draft.
The trade deadline would give the Rangers a chance to upgrade the bullpen, but only if they are still in the postseason mix. If not in the mix, the Rangers could go the other way and start wheeling and dealing.
A winning series against the Astros will get the Rangers within 11 games of first place. They’ll be lucky to be within 13.
Realistically, the Rangers better start looking at the wild-card standings and not the American League West standings. And good things have happened for wild-card teams, so it’s not the worst way to go.
The problem is that multiple teams will technically be in contention for one of the two wild-card spots. The Rangers might have to pass three or four teams to claim one of spots.
Is that worth the prospects it would take to upgrade the bullpen via trade?
Maybe. The Rangers’ core is getting old and running out of time. Beltre and Cole Hamels could be free agents after 2018. Darvish, Carlos Gomez, Mike Napoli, Jonathan Lucroy, Tony Barnette, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross can all be free after this season.
If the Rangers are out of it at the trade deadline, that group might not make it out of 2017.
(I don’t think the Rangers will trade Darvish, in part because the market will be flooded with pitchers in their walk years and the return won’t be as significant as in previous years.)
So, that’s predicament the Rangers could find themselves in come the All-Star break, when the trade talks start to pick up ahead of the deadline.
That’s why this series against the Astros could have jump-started the Rangers over the next six weeks and why the Darvish start, while definitely not his worst, wasn’t nearly good enough.