With each Texas Rangers loss and Houston Astros victory, the Rangers’ deficit in the American League West continues to get more and more staggering.
The Astros hung on for a 6-5 victory Saturday night to drop the Rangers 14 games out of first place. Houston, meanwhile, is 40-16 and the winner of nine consecutive games.
They are the best team in baseball, with a complete lineup and the kind of lockdown bullpen the Rangers thought they would have entering the season. The Astros’ rotation could be better, but right now it doesn’t need to be.
It does for October, and that’s where these Astros are headed.
Here’s some more Rangers Reaction from the Rangers ninth loss in their past 11 games.
1. The Rangers are going to say what they said Saturday night about Rougned Odor, that the 23-year-old second baseman is a talented hitter who is going to figure things out at the plate.
Odor is going to keep working on his swing and his approach, and it’s going to click for him.
He’s going to continue to play, and the Rangers still aren’t going to pinch hit for him no matter the situation.
If that sounds like insanity, it is.
Until Odor does solve his woes, the Rangers can’t continue to have him taking the starch out of the middle of the lineup. He needs to drop in the order, or he needs to sit a few games to clear his mind.
If manager Jeff Banister can do that to a veteran hitter, as he did Ian Desmond last season, he can do it for a young hitter who for two games has looked lost at the plate following an eight-game hitting streak.
Banister did it for Nomar Mazara early last month, and it turned things.
The thought since Adrian Beltre returned is that batting behind Beltre would give Odor some better pitches to hit. Instead, teams have shied away from Beltre to get to Odor.
If the theory is that Beltre makes the batter behind him better, move Mike Napoli, Jonathan Lucroy or even Joey Gallo behind Beltre. Those three could also use some help, though Napoli needs some back massages more than anything right now.
Once Odor turns things around, if he turns things around as the Rangers believe he will, he can return to a meatier part of the lineup. If he continues to bat fifth and continues to struggle, that’s the definition of insanity.
2. Andrew Cashner had only one choice after surrendering four runs in the third inning, to stay in the game and keep the Rangers from falling behind any further. Doing that would buy the offense time to mount a rally.
That’s what Cashner did, and what the offense did.
Truth be told, Cashner didn’t pitch all that badly.
The Astros didn’t exactly knock him around in the third, though they did collect five hits. Many were grounders that missed an infielder, an indication that Cashner’s sinker was doing what it was supposed to do.
The results just weren’t there, as Cashner pointed out after he tossed six innings and allowed five runs. He also allowed 11 hits, matching his career-high, but the only ball that was tattooed that comes to mind was a Carlos Beltran homer to start the second.
But in allowing five runs, Cashner’s ERA jumped to 3.39 after 10 starts. His 2-5 record is more the by-product of lousy run support earlier in the season as opposed to any truly lousy pitched from him.
So far, so good on the one-year, $10 million November signing, and the Rangers could soon get a look at Tyson Ross. He signed a one-year, $6 million deal in January, and his Rangers debut could come next week at Washington.
Ross allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings for Triple A Round Rock in his third rehab start. He finished at 93 pitches, seven more than in his last start, but with two more innings simulated.
The hope is that he won’t feel like he needs another. He shouldn’t.
The Rangers need him, and they can only hope he’s as good as Cashner has been so far. That includes his pitching Saturday night.
But Andrus walked through the clubhouse Saturday afternoon and was stopped by a media throng. Honeymoon over.
The private, family-only ceremony at Andrus’ home put a ring on a relationship of 2 1/2 years. His wife, Cori, is due with their first child next month. Andrus’ life is changing dramatically.
Yet, just as Jack Nicklaus believe Tiger Woods would improve once he had a family and Gary Player thought the same of Rory McIlroy, that seems to be happening with Andrus.
He had the finest season of his career in 2016 as his relationship deepened, and he’s on pace for another banner year with a wedding band on his finger and some serious diaper changing in his future.
It’s not a coincidence. Andrus is slowing down off the field and picking up the pace on it. He’s staying out of the bars (just a guess, an educated guess) and knocking balls out of the park.
And he’s genuinely happy to do. He’s not afraid of what comes next (fatherhood, sleep deprivation, trying to not forget anniversaries). He believes his best days, as a person and a ballplayer, are ahead.
Andrus also said that he is wiser, so Rangers fans should hope that he’s smart enough to not exercise the opt-out clauses in his eight-year, $120 million contract after next season and 2019.
He’s an improved player, arguably a top-five shortstop in the AL, but it seems unlikely that he will do any better than the $15 million the Rangers are playing him and will be paying him the next three seasons before his salaries for 2021 and 2022 drop to $14 million.
Andrus has all that he needs — money, job security, a home and now a family — with the Rangers, and both are better off for it.