Maybe the Texas Rangers should have known it wasn’t going to be their night Tuesday when Adrian Beltre, the five-time Gold Glove winner, just flat missed Adam Jones’ line drive in the first inning.
If they didn’t know then, they knew three batters later when Carlos Gomez saw a homer-robbing catch pop out of his glove for a home run.
It was a nine-run game when Austin Bibens-Dirkx, pitching for the first time since June 30, needed a new belt and did the exchanged in the middle of the field and a crowd of 18,119.
The Rangers already knew by then it clearly hadn’t been their night.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 12-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
1. Remember Saturday night, when the Rangers willed their way back to .500 with a 1-0 victory? Remember?
The second wild card was there for the taking, two games away and with only one team ahead of them. The 10-game road trip to open the second half was going to be a successful one. There wouldn’t be a July 31 fire sale.
About that ...
A three-game losing streak, capped by a stinker Tuesday, has the Rangers three games under .500 and just three games out of that second wild-card berth but with four teams ahead of them. With the way the Rangers played Tuesday, they look like they might not win a game the rest of the season.
They will, of course, because their starting pitcher won’t possibly be as bad as Tyson Ross was, their defense won’t be as dicey as it was and has been the past two games, and their offense will hit again. I think.
As of Game 93 of 162, though, a playoff spot seems far-fetched.
The Rangers, though, are in a tough spot. The farm system needs a boost. Six players are headed to free agency, and the Rangers clearly aren’t going to re-sign all six.
Yet, the players expect to contend. The pieces are in place to contend. The players actually expect a trade, though to help the cause and not to sell off. The memory of the 2015 charge is still fresh.
The Rangers have 11 more games until July 31 to prove that they are contenders. All that’s on the line is their season.
2. The Rangers, it appears, have every intention of trading catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who started for the fourth consecutive game after he and Robinson Chirinos were sharing time being the plate.
The showcase so far has produced a couple RBI and three quality starts by Rangers pitchers. The Rangers have also lost three straight games, though that can’t be pinned on Lucroy.
Lucroy will become a free agent this off-season after extension talks were tabled during spring training and never resumed. He is in the midst of one of the poorest seasons of his career, but remains confident that he will bust out at some point.
Maybe that’s what the Rangers are hoping will happen between now and July 31. Lucroy’s track record suggests it will.
The narrative is that a trade of Lucroy will fetch a reliever for the bullpen, but which contender is going to want to give up a reliever? If Lucroy does go, expect prospects in return.
I’m in the minority here, but I’d hold onto him. If the club plans to win a wild-card spot, it will be easier to accomplish with Lucroy and Chirinos at catcher rather than Chirinos and Brett Nicholas.
No offense to Nicholas, who has been a fine player in the minors and showed well in 2016 in his debut season in the majors, but he is very inexperienced. He would then be a foul tip away from regular duty, and the Rangers would likely be left with Nicholas and Jose Trevino from Double A.
If catcher is the thinnest position in the game, which it is because I’ve heard Jon Daniels call it that, why jeopardize a playoff berth by turning a strength into a weakness?
Daniels is the GM, though, and the farm system is thin at the upper levels and the bullpen needs help. If a player who seems highly unlikely to return after this season can help address those areas, Daniels needs to listen.
There are some others who might be of interest to a contender, too.
Expect the Lucroy showcase to continue Thursday after Chirinos catches Martin Perez on Wednesday.
3. Ross was charged with nine runs (eight earned) in 3 1/3 innings in his sixth start of the season, and for the second time this season allowed a first-inning six spot.
In his defense, it could have been not quite as bad had Beltre caught Jones’ liner and had Gomez secured Chris Davis’ homer instead of it bouncing off his glove and into the Orioles’ bullpen.
Of course, Ross probably got what he deserved for allowing a 405-foot flyball.
This much is known so far about Ross: When he’s bad, he’s really bad. When he’s good, it’s either only in spurts or it’s obscured by his lack of command.
It shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, as his career numbers show high walk totals. He also missed 15 months, and even the elite pitchers can struggle upon returning from a layoff that long.
With the Rangers trying to survive in the playoff race and avoid a July 31 sell-off, it’s hard for them to send a wild card to the mound every fifth day. They also don’t have a choice but to send Ross out there.
He won’t get any better with Bibens-Dirkx taking his rotation spot.
Ross is scheduled to pitch again Sunday, and he will be better. He can’t be much worse.