The last thing many Texas Rangers players were interested in doing Sunday was making a big deal out of their first trip to Toronto since the nightmarish Game 5 of the American League Division Series.
Some have a little extra mojo going into the four-game series that begins Monday. Others don’t really think it’s a big deal. Rougned Odor is somewhere in between, though closer to not caring than wanting to get some form of revenge.
He also had this observation: The reaction from the Rogers Centre crowd — which threw bottles, cans, coins, puppies onto the field after he scored on an unusual play in the seventh inning — wasn’t anything crazy, at least not for a Venezuelan.
“In Venezuela, it happens all the time,” he said.
Let’s all go to a game in Venezuela some time, maybe just not anytime soon.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 9-6 loss Sunday.
1. Said loss brought an end to a remarkable streak of 14 straight Rangers wins in regular-season starts by Cole Hamels, who was the losing pitcher in Game 5 but hadn’t lost a non-playoff game since Aug. 7. He got a no-decision Sunday after allowing four runs in five innings.
He was having a somewhat typical start, or at least typical for this season, by getting out of jams in the first and fourth but was working quickly and efficiently. Then the fifth inning hit, and it hit fan for him.
Hamels walked three in the inning, including two ahead of Mike Trout. The perennial MVP candidate bounced into a force out, bringing in a run, and following another walk, C.J. Cron drove in two with a two-out single.
Hamels was this close to getting out of the inning with no damage had Delino DeShields or Rougned Odor allowed a Cliff Pennington blooper to drop between them. That play has to be made by DeShields, who looked like he got there in time after a bad jump only to see Odor make a wild try for it.
Hamels also lost the feel for his two-seamer and left a pitch 1-2 pitch up to Cron.
The difficulties with his command resulted in Hamels throwing 36 pitches in the inning. He entered the frame at 51 pitches.
The important thing afterward is that he said his left groin, the one he tweaked April 20 that force him to get skipped in the rotation, is fine.
“It felt really good, actually,” he said.
So he’s got that going for him, which is nice. But the four walks and one not-so-harmless blooper cost the Rangers a pretty impressive streak.
2. Ian Desmond legged out a double, had an RBI single and scored twice in the loss, and suddenly he’s one of the Rangers’ hottest hitters. Depending on how you want to monkey with the stats, he’s the hottest, though Odor can make a compelling case.
Whatever. Desmond has rescued his season after a lousy start. He’s batting .241, up from .109, thanks to an 8-for-19 homestand (.421) and a 16-for-41 stretch (.390) the past 12 games.
He credits a three-day break — being out the lineup April 16, a rainout April 17 and an off day April 18 — for allowing him to clear his head, look at some video and work on some things in the cage.
And all those things that manager Jeff Banister boasted about Desmond are starting to come true.
Can be better? Sure. How much better is a bigger question. The Rangers would probably take right now what he did in the second half last season (.262/.331/.446), but Desmond wouldn’t.
He takes his day job incredibly seriously, maybe sometimes too much so, and wants to be great. He has been the past 12 games.
3. Yu Darvish was the featured attraction Sunday at Double A Frisco before a sold-out crowd at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Josh Hamilton was supposed to be there, too, but the inevitable setback has occurred.
Darvish needed 32 pitches to post two scoreless innings in his first rehab start on the way back from Tommy John surgery. The in-house radar gun had him popping 97, which even if a couple mph hot, is a good sign for the pro-velo crowd.
(Everyone likes velo, but there are some who think it’s the be-all end-all of pitching. But it’s not a death sentence for pitchers who don’t have as much of it.)
Darvish is tracking for a return somewhere between May 21 and May 27, assuming there aren’t any setbacks. The Rangers will announce Monday when he will take the mound again, after making sure he gets through Sunday without any issues.
He admitted to having a few mental issues entering the start, including thinking the worst.
“Seriously, I hope I’m not going to blow my elbow. That’s what I was thinking,” Darvish told reporters. “Physically I had no problems. Maybe, mentally, it was my first outing, so maybe I was a little overexcited. That’s probably it.”
Hamilton, according the watchful eyes of general manager Jon Daniels, was feeling a little frustrated that discomfort returned to his left knee during only one rehab game, though he had been in Arizona playing games for a week.
He got a cortisone shot. At this point, he should have his own supply of the stuff and know exactly how to inject it. The Rangers and Hamilton hope he can resume rehabbing next week.
The thing is, the Rangers don’t need him. Not in the least. He’s a broken-down outfielder on a team that has too many outfielders. He can still be a force offensively when healthy or at whatever goes for healthy for him these days.
He’s not going to unseat any of the three current starters. He’s not going to keep Shin-Soo Choo out of the lineup once he’s back from a strained right calf. Hamilton might get Ryan Rua sent down for no other reason than he has minor league options remaining.
Hamilton has to get healthy first.
Good luck with that.