Seldom is this space used for critiques of umpires, and never as an excuse for a team’s loss even if players believe it to be so.
But Joe West was at it again, though Jeff Banister didn’t make the media privy to what he said as he walked back to the dugout and then was given the heave by West in the second inning.
Doing it without the ejectee looking just seems like shooting someone in the back, doesn’t it?
That’s what baseball fans have come to expect from West, who has been around since the 1970s and who could retire in a few years with the most games called in MLB history.
Banister wondered why plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt (more on him shortly) reversed a foul ball into a hit batter, and thought umpires should review it without the Rangers having to use a challenge.
West waddled over from third base and within 30 seconds put the spotlight on himself, just the way he likes it.
The spotlight found him multiple times Friday as he missed calls at first base that needed to be overturned on replay. Wendelstedt avoided the spotlight, though not entirely, in the first inning.
Yu Darvish felt that Wendelstedt missed a strike call to the game’s second batter, leading to a walk, and missed another on the first pitch to Danny Valencia.
That pitch crossed up Robinson Chirinos, who never gloved the ball as it went off his left arm for a run-scoring passed ball. The problem is that every tool used to evaluate balls and strikes showed the pitch down the middle.
He told Darvish that it was well off the plate. Instead of being ahead in the count, Darvish was behind, and Valencia hit a two-run shot three pitches later.
Banister could have kept his mouth shut and Darvish could have made better pitches. West and Wendelstedt did not cost the Rangers the game.
They just weren’t very good and need to be called out for it.
Here’s some more Rangers Reaction from a 7-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
1. The temperature at first pitch was 92 degrees, and the temperature on the field is always warmer.
Conditions like that would make pitch efficiency a priority, so that the players on the field don’t melt. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Darvish was their starting pitcher.
One of the game’s slowest-working pitchers hit the brakes early on, struggling to find a rhythm and allowing four runs in the first inning. He needed 29 pitches and 18 minutes to record three outs.
Things improved for Darvish, though he was at 75 pitches after three innings. The Rangers went to the bullpen to start the sixth with Darvish at 99 pitches.
For a second consecutive Sunday, an ace in a Rangers game lost to an unheralded pitcher. Last weekend, Austin Bibens-Dirkx beat Max Scherzer. On Sunday, Christian Bergman outpitched Darvish.
Bergman entered with a 10.61 road ERA. Small sample size? Maybe. He was due? Maybe. But he’d been bad and the Rangers had been hot, and he was good and the Rangers weren’t.
Darvish still remains an enigma to some. He can be great and usually is, but then he can pitch like he has no idea what’s going on. Both can happen in the same start.
But even he seems to be tired of the ups and downs.
“From now on, I don’t want that result,” he said. “I need to be better.”
Maybe it wasn’t a complete loss for the Rangers.
2. This isn’t meant to be a joke, though it might have come off that way if not for me prefacing the following: Jeremy Jeffress’ ERA has dropped below 6.00 again after two scoreless innings Sunday.
A few weeks ago, the only reliever the Rangers wanted to avoid more than Jeffress was Sam Dyson. But, aside from a hiccup Wednesday at Houston, Jeffress has steadily shown that he can be used in reliable spots.
And for multiple innings.
That’s significant as the Rangers wade through plugging two holes in the rotation, meaning they have no long man, and as they try to bring stability to the weakest part of their team this season.
Matt Bush and Keone Kela have proven to be reliable, and so have Alex Claudio and Jose Leclerc. Jeffress is entering that realm, and his ability to get more than three outs helps the Rangers avoid using Bush and Kela for more than an inning and helps the Rangers avoid using a long man as they wait for Cole Hamels and Andrew Cashner to come off the DL.
Dario Alvarez should be avoided at all costs.
There is still hope that Tony Barnette will figure things out. If so, the Rangers’ bullpen could be good instead of gawd awful, as it was deep into May.
Jeffress’ shrinking ERA also gives hope.
3. One of the final text messages — if not the final — I received from Richard Durrett was him wishing me a happy Father’s Day.
That was on June 15, 2015. He passed away suddenly two days later.
From that shocking loss came the Do It For Durrett Benefit Concert and, six months later, the Do It For Durrett Foundation, which held its third annual fundraiser Friday night at Globe Life Park.
The event raised $150,000, with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation kicking in a handsome share. Far too much credit was given to the mostly overmatched board members — I’m easily the most overmatched — for pulling together another great night.
Not enough credit goes to Richard’s wife, Kelly, one of the most inspiring people I know, for letting a few of us keep the foundation going and helping us out a board member.
Ashley Ernisse delivered again with the volunteers and charting the auction items. Any employer seeking a kick-butt organizer to make life easier on you and your company should hire her.
There are also the usual suspects who come to every event and open up their wallets to help us help area families affected by the loss of a primary bread-winner.
This year’s event for the first time came during a game, in the Hyundai Club overlooking Tyson Ross’ Rangers debut. Next year might also be there or maybe in another spot in the ballpark.
But there will be another year.