Here’s toxic recipe when trying to play a game in under three hours:
The Boston Red Sox vs. the Texas Rangers.
David Price vs. Yu Darvish.
At least that combination left no doubt that it would be dark enough for fireworks.
Those at Globe Life Park who survived nine innings in 3 hours, 56 minutes watched as Darvish was knocked around and as the Rangers’ offense again didn’t make enough contact to give themselves a chance.
Other than that, it was a great night.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 11-4 Fourth of July beat down.
1. In watching the Red Sox manage to repeatedly pile up hits against Darvish, one of the most difficult pitchers to repeatedly pile up hits against, perhaps the Rangers’ hitters took note.
It’s pretty amazing the good things that can happen when putting bat to ball.
Bad things can happen, too. Where the ball goes once hit is out of a hitter’s hands.
But an offense will never know without giving it a try.
The Rangers struck out 15 more times against David Price, who had nine, and two relievers.
The inability to put a ball in play proved costly early on, before the Red Sox started to pull away. More and more the offense is starting to again be a liability.
The hitters aren’t going as badly as they did early on. They are actually scoring runs, but those are being overshadowed by, largely, the bullpen’s failures.
The power surge has been welcomed.
But the inability to manufacture runs, to add runs to leads, has become an issue. Even in situations when a sacrifice fly or a grounder to second base is all that’s needed to score, the Rangers seem to come up short.
But too often their part of the order is where rallies go to die. (As I was writing this, Gomez singled to in the eighth, Odor followed with a single and Napoli homered.)
The Red Sox don’t hit a ton of homers, though they’ve picked up their pace. The make a ton of contact, though, and good things can happen when putting bat to ball.
Perhaps the Rangers’ hitters took note.
2. Darvish wasn’t in a state of denial after facing the media, despite his claims that bad luck did him in more than anything else. He said that he wants to be better and needs to find ways to be better.
Pretty accurate assessment.
There were instances where Darvish made quality pitches only to see the ball find a hole or land softly where there weren’t any defenders. There was one that landed where there was a defender, and, naturally, the Red Sox took advantage of the Gomez second-inning misplay.
Darvish walked into the dugout in the fifth after allowing seven runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He admitted that his final pitch was a bad one, resulting in a three-run homer to Andrew Benintendi. All he did was go 5 for 5 with six RBI.
Manager Jeff Banister said that only two other balls were hit hard against Darvish.
Darvish has previously said that he wants to be better, taking full accountability after Seattle got him for five runs in five innings June 18. Darvish responded with seven scoreless innings June 23 at Yankee Stadium and six OK innings June 28 at Cleveland.
He’s actually trying to pitch more to contact. What happened against the Red Sox is what can happen to any pitcher who invites his opponent to put the ball in play. Darvish needs to find the middle ground, and he needs to start with strike one.
“I feel like physically I felt pretty good, and I had a good fastball,” he said. “In the next outing, I just want to keep that condition. I want to keep pitching better. I want to get better every time I go out there. Whatever I can do, whatever unique skills, I’d like to do.”
The right-hander will start the first-half finale Sunday. The Rangers could use another Darvish rebound.
3. As Rangers scouts and execs get their first chance to evaluate the club at full strength, or as close as what they thought they would look like during their preseason meetings, the Rangers have gone circling down the drain.
Losers of three straight and 6 of 7, the Rangers are playing like they will be out of realistic playoff contention as the trade deadline nears.
Of course, that’s been said multiple times this season, and the Rangers have found a way to pick themselves off the mat and continue their flirtation with contender status.
But time is not on their side. They probably have 14 games — the last four of the first and the first 10 of the second half — to get moving the other direction.
If they are playing well and showing signs that a breakthrough is imminent, the Rangers won’t be deadline sellers. If not, any of the six impending free agents could be gone by July 31.
Here are three to consider:
Darvish. He would be the top target for contenders, but here’s a catch: He’s not the only high-profile rental who will be available, so he might not fetch the package some are hoping to see.
Jonathan Lucroy. Forget the framing stats and concerns that his defense is sliding. He would be an upgrade for multiple contenders, including the Red Sox.
Napoli. His 18 home runs, his career prowess against left-handers and his nose for winning will likely make contenders take a look.
The others — Gomez, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross — might be harder to move along. Each has been on the disabled list this season, and each is being paid handsomely.
Of course, the Rangers have to go in the tank, worse than they appear to be doing now, before the front office pulls the plug. The Rangers might have only 14 games to turn things around.