Rain fell at Yankee Stadium around first pitch Friday night, but it was the threat of significant rain that prompted the first of three weekend games between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees to be delayed before it started.
So, everyone waited and wondered when the heavy stuff would start coming down. It never did, but it’s unlikely that complaints were being logged from the Rangers’ clubhouse.
They didn’t want to A) risk losing their starter (Yu Darvish) after only a couple innings and B) didn’t want play a doubleheader Saturday.
The Rangers are in the midst of 20 games in 20 days and are in a scramble to fill their rotation and build a viable combination. A twin bill would have really messed up the works.
Alas, the rain held off long enough for the game to be official. Maybe the Rangers, especially Matt Bush, should have wished for a rainout.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 2-1 loss in 10 innings.
1. The bullpen was a topic of conversation Friday afternoon during the pregame gaggle with manager Jeff Banister, who said that the only defined role is Bush as closer.
The smart money is on it staying that way even though Bush blew his second consecutive save chance as he allowed a game-tying home run to Brett Gardner with one out in the ninth and then lost the game on a two-out single in the 10th.
Here’s why: The Rangers don’t have anyone else. Again.
“I’m trying the best I can right now,” Bush said. “It’s very difficult. I feel it. I feel the weight of these losses. It’s very tough mentally. Physically, I’m doing everything I can. I’m going to grind. I’m in a battle right now.”
The situation isn’t as dire as it was in April and May with Sam Dyson. But it is a situation, and the Rangers are going to have live with it as Bush continues to learn not only how to be a closer but how to pitch.
Inexperience might not have played into the Gardner homer, though perhaps a more savvy closer would have pitched more cautiously to Gardner after falling behind in the count, pitched to Aaron Hicks, pitched around Aaron Judge and gone after Matt Holliday.
That might sound far-fetched, but experienced pitchers know where to get their outs.
Bush will learn. He’s smart. He has smart people around him. He has shown an ability to execute pitches far more often than not.
Besides, it’s not like the Rangers have the prospects to trade for a closer, not after the past two years. They might have a prospect or two to acquire a proven set-up man, or maybe Jake Diekman can return by late July.
Either of those could be as big for the bullpen as anything. A return to form by both Tony Barnette and Jeremy Jeffress would be significant, too.
Bush pitched the 10th inning, Banister said, because Keone Kela, Jose Leclerc and Alex Claudio were unavailable because of their recent workloads.
Leclerc and Claudio pitched Thursday, so that’s understandable.
Kela hadn’t pitched since Wednesday, but Banister still wanted to stay away from him.
If the Rangers’ best bullpen arms are gassed, if the manager and pitching coach aren’t confident in what’s out there now and feel it necessary to push Bush another inning, and with Jeffress and Barnette on the disabled list, a set-up man is an absolute must.
Until that happens, if that happens, the Rangers are dealing with more problems in the bullpen than Bush’s struggles at closer.
2. What’s the bigger issue going forward:
A) Bush and closer role?
B) Yu Darvish and his tight triceps?
Tough call, but give me B.
The ace of the staff, who looked brilliant in going against his buddy and countryman Masahiro Tanaka for the first time in an MLB game, couldn’t go any more than 88 pitches because of tightness in his right triceps.
Oh, don’t worry, Darvish assured. He plans to make his next start.
Seeing is believing on that one.
The Rangers rotation has been beat up, and while statistically one of the best in the American League, has been trending the wrong way.
Tyson Ross is back, though his second start was a complete dud. Cole Hamels is coming back, which, of course, is great news for the Rangers. Andrew Cashner isn’t too far behind.
But just as the Rangers get one or two back (Hamels, Cashner), others have issues (Darvish, see below). As nice of a story as Austin Bibens-Dirkx has been and as well as Nick Martinez has pitched of late, the Rangers won’t survive long if they have to rely on those two over an extended stretch.
Of course, nine loses between Dyson and Bush are hard to stomach, but their issues aren’t the only ones among the relievers. As stated above, the return of Diekman/Barnette/Jeffress and/or the acquisition of a set-up man would reshape the bullpen.
But the Rangers aren’t going to find, or be able to pull off a trade for, another Darvish to help the rotation.
Tough call, but give me B.
3. Martin Perez was hungry after a win Thursday afternoon and a long charter flight. His agent was in town. New York City, rumor has it, never sleeps.
Perfect, let’s go get something to eat, Perez said.
He just forgot to make sure his right thumb had cleared the door to his hotel room.
Instead, the tip of the thumb got caught in the door, near the hinge, and Perez never got a chance to eat. Instead, he got a trip to an area emergency room after the nail was torn off and a bone was broken.
His next start is in jeopardy.
The good news is that Perez is left-handed, and his left thumb is fine. If he can find a way to get his right thumb into his glove by Wednesday, he plans to start for the Rangers at Cleveland, after Hamels and Ross open the four-game series.
In trying to think of odd Rangers injuries in my time on the beat, the first one that comes to mind is Derek Holland’s serious knee injury after tripping over his dog on his staircase. Some still doubt that’s what really happened.
Adrian Beltre has twice come up with calf injuries while running on his treadmill just before spring training. Michael Young dropped a weight on his ring finger in 2009, a postgame injury that was once rumored to be the result of a skirmish with Sidney Ponson.
Young didn’t miss a game.
Maybe Perez won’t. He’s convinced he won’t. It actually seems possible that he won’t. With Darvish’s tight triceps, Perez needs to make that next start to buy Darvish an extra day or two.