Two games into the 2016 season, and the Texas Rangers are incapable of playing just a nice, normal game.
One hit but a 3-2 win Monday in the lid-lifter. A bullpen meltdown and what looked to be a bench meltdown Tuesday in a 10-2 loss.
Only 160 more to go.
Here is some Rangers Reaction.
1. The Rangers’ highly touted bullpen is going to have nights like it did Tuesday, when Tony Barnette allowed two two-out runs in the seventh inning of a tied game in his major league debut and when Tom Wilhelmsen coughed up five runs in the eighth while recording as many outs as you and I did.
Those things happen.
Barnette was the choice, manager Jeff Banister said, because the bottom of the Seattle lineup was coming, a part of the lineup they felt he could manage. The Rangers wanted to save Sam Dyson or Jake Diekman for the top and middle of the Mariners’ lineup.
Makes sense. But Diekman or fellow left-hander Andrew Faulkner should have been brought in for Leonys Martin, a left-handed hitter. Instead, the right-handed Barnette hung a slider and Martin doubled to break the 2-2 tie.
Wilhelmsen’s outing is a stumper. Maybe the Mariners knew how to attack him after watching him as their teammate, though he acknowledged that the roster has had significant turnover. Maybe he was too amped up in facing his old team.
Whatever. Bullpens have days like the ones the Rangers’ had Tuesday. Those things happen.
2. The shaky relief work and the eighth-inning shenanigans overshadowed what looked to the amateur eye to be a good outing by Martin Perez in his 2016 debut. He allowed two runs on two hits in six innings, though four walks and a hit batsman contributed to a few trying innings.
Banister, when asked after the game about Perez, was a tough critic. Too many walks, which is fair. Only a few clean innings, when only the second and fourth seemed particularly trying. Not a good breaking ball, though Perez said he was pleased with it.
Perez can be better, and Banister isn’t wrong about that. But if Perez gives what he gave the Rangers 32 more times, they will gladly take it. If Perez does that 32 more times, he will increase the Rangers’ chances at the postseason.
3. About those eighth-inning shenanigans, they seemed entirely avoidable. Wilhelmsen could have not plunked Chris Iannetta after allowing a homer, double, double and a homer to his first four batters.
But he did, causing plate ump Marvin Hudson to toss him immediately and drawing the ire of Iannetta. The catcher squawked all the way to first base, and it appeared for a moment that the benches would clear when Banister gestured toward Mariners rookie manager Scott Servais as the two exchanged words.
They weren’t nice words, according to the TV replays and those close to the field.
Servais, a former Rangers farm director, and Banister both said that emotions go out of hand. Servais and Iannetta dismissed it simply as something that happens in baseball and they will move on.
Banister said that he went to the field only to make sure his players didn’t get out of hand. Instead, he and Servais were the ones who said and did too much.
4. The first road trip of the season begins Thursday, and the Rangers will depart Wednesday for Anaheim after their series against Seattle. Will A.J. Griffin be on the charter? Can A.J. Griffin be on the charter?
He wasn’t listed on the Rangers’ game notes as the probable starter for Friday, when the Rangers will need a fifth starter. He has accepted assignment to Triple A Round Rock, which means he can’t be at Globe Life Park.
I get that the Rangers want to consider all their options, i.e. a trade for a starting pitcher. They have communicated their options and Griffin’s options with Griffin, and he feels good enough about his chances that he didn’t opt out of his minor league deal.
Is the media making too much about the Rangers not naming their fifth starter? Maybe. Are the Rangers making too much about a rotation spot they are going to try to skip whenever humanly possible? Probably.
It’s no secret who the leading candidate is, yet there’s too much secrecy, which means the Rangers are searching for a trade partner. At some point soon, possibly as soon as before Wednesday’s game, the secret will be revealed.