That closes the book on the first half, and as Harry Doyle would say, “Thank God.”
When the Texas Rangers played well, it seemed as if they could have played better. When they didn’t play well, it seemed as if they couldn’t have played much worse.
The bullpen was a disaster. The offense struggled early. The rotation had its share of ups and downs.
Yet, hope springs eternal in the Rangers’ clubhouse. What else are the players going to think?
But there are reasons for them to be optimistic. If the bullpen had been only 50 percent better than it was, the Rangers would be leading the wild-card race. The team is as healthy as it’s been all season.
The rotation finished strong, and that includes Yu Darvish’s performance Sunday.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
1. Yu Darvish was beaten by a future Hall of Famer and one of the game’s fastest players, and by an abundant lack of run support.
Albert Pujols homered in the first, Ben Revere stole two bases in the fifth and scored on a sacrifice fly, and the Rangers managed only two hits against J.C. Ramirez and didn’t score despite five walks.
So, no three-game sweep and no .500 record at the All-Star break, but that doesn’t mean the playoffs aren’t possible. The 2015 Rangers were below .500 at the 2015 All-Star break but managed to win the American League West.
The postseason felt like a long shot then and does now, but don’t tell the players that. Maybe they are in a state of denial, maybe they are clinging to the 2015 memory, or maybe they actually know something no one else seems to know.
Darvish pitched 7 1/3 innings and didn’t get much help from Shin-Soo Choo in right field on a double that ended up sending the right-hander to his flight to Miami as the Rangers’ lone representative in the All-Star Game.
The bullpen bailed him out, and his final line of two earned runs on three hits was very ace-like. At the very least, he was much better than Tuesday against Boston, which stuck him with one of the worst outings of his career.
Those are the kind of outings that make the Rangers want to keep him. There have been far more of those than what happened against the Red Sox, no matter what might be spouted on Twitter.
2. The offense laid an egg to end the first half, which shouldn’t be unexpected considering their inability to support Darvish.
The goose egg was the second straight while Darvish was on the mound and third in the last four. The Rangers lost all four games and have lost five straight with him on the mound.
Over his past 13 starts, the Rangers have supported him with 1, 3, 3, 5, 1, 0, 1, 6, 2, 0, 1, 0 and 0 runs. That’s why the win is considered such a phony stat. He has given the Rangers enough to win all but two of his 19 starts.
The no-show at the plate ended a string of eight straight games with at least four runs. The Rangers saw a lot of J.C. Ramirez’s pitches, drawing five walks, but they just didn’t hit many of them very hard.
Adrian Beltre didn’t get a hit, so he’s stuck at 2,978. If he averages a hit a game to open the second half, he’ll enter the 3,000-hit club Aug. 5 at Minnesota.
Rougned Odor didn’t get a hit, so his 10-game hitting streak is over. There’s a lot of feel-good there, however.
The same can be said about the offense as a whole, except when Darvish pitches.
3. The All-Star break is upon us, which means no meaningful baseball until Friday. That’s especially good news for a handful of Rangers players in need of time off the field.
Beltre and Darvish need the rest the most, because of the clout they carry in terms of the Rangers’ second-half chances.
Beltre continues to be hampered by his assortment of leg injuries, though he would never say so publicly. Just watching him run should be an indicator that not all is well.
Darvish won’t get much rest as he is shuttled from event to event at the All-Star festivities. No, he’s not pitching and will likely work out and do some throwing, but nothing so taxing that his arm won’t catch a break.
Odor (bruised hand) and Joey Gallo (left hamstring) also should be better by the time the second half resumes Friday. Keone Kela (shoulder) won’t get to vacation during the break but will continue his throwing program with the goal of coming off the disabled list at Kansas City.
Elvis Andrus (baby) also needs the break to wrap his mind around his life-changing and sleep-altering event. He’ll hate going on the road, but at least he’ll get some sleep.