Just as the Oakland A’s caught the Boston Red Sox last week at a bad time, the Texas Rangers might be catching the A’s at a bad time.
Oakland has won three straight games, and have a player with a three-homer game in two of them. They would be Danny Valencia, who did it Sunday at Tampa Bay, and Khris Davis, who did it to the Rangers on Tuesday.
They drove in all eight A’s runs against Cole Hamels and Shawn Tolleson.
Hamels, who issued back-to-back homers to Valencia and Davis in the second and Davis’ second homer in the sixth, is going to be fine. Tolleson will be, too, eventually but probably not as closer.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-5 loss and an eight-game suspension Tuesday.
1. The feeling after the loss was that Tolleson is going to be removed from the closer’s role indefinitely after he blew his second straight save and fourth in 15 tries this season.
Manager Jeff Banister didn’t say it afterward, saying he didn’t want to knee-jerk after a tough loss when it looked like Ian Desmond’s two-run homer in the Rangers’ ninth would win it.
But Banister all but said it.
“I definitely have a level of concern there,” Banister said. “I’m not ready tonight to make a reactionary decision or statement on that. It’s the fourth blown save there. It’s challenging as it is. We’ve got to be able to make pitches in that situation at the end of the game and close games out when we fight back and take the lead.”
Tolleson seemed resigned to it. He admitted that he’s in the worst funk of his career. He was unlucky to the first batter, Stephen Vogt, who reached on a 40-footer down the first-base line. But Tolleson made a bad pitch to Davis, who erased a 5-4 deficit with a two-out, two-strike grand slam.
Sam Dyson seems like a shoo-in to replace Tolleson, with Jake Diekman and Matt Bush working the seventh and eighth. Tolleson needs to pitch in low-leverage situations until he irons out his issues.
Even if he does, he might not resume closing games. This is his third season with the Rangers, and he has made dozens of appearances against division foes. While two of his blown saves were against Toronto, one was against Seattle and then Oakland on Tuesday.
Maybe he’s been seen too often by the AL West teams. If he doesn’t have his best stuff, they might have the advantage. With 58 games divisional games remaining, Banister might have second thoughts on Tolleson getting back into the closer’s role.
It’s still too early for Bush to close, as dominant has he’s been in three appearances. He retired all four batters he faced Tuesday, including Davis swinging to end the seventh after Hamels had issued a tie-breaking RBI single to Valencia.
Bush was ready for Valencia in a righty-vs.-righty matchup, but Banister didn’t make the move. He sided with the left-handed staff ace, who had handled Valencia in the two at-bats since his homer on a 3-0 pitch.
It didn’t work out.
2. The punishments for Sunday’s brawl have been handed out, and Rougned Odor received an eight-game ban for his punch to the jaw of Jose Bautista. Elvis Andrus got a game for taking swing at Kevin Pillar, who was running around like a wild man.
Pillar got fined $1,000, despite saying the following Monday to reporters:
“In the heat of the moment, you’ve got to do what you think is right. You’ve got to go out there and defend yourself and defend your teammates. And just given the circumstances, I felt like [Odor] was owed one, and I was going out there to get him.”
The Rangers didn’t seem too concerned Tuesday about what also happened to the Toronto Blue Jays (Bautista, one-game suspension; John Gibbons and Jesse Chavez, three-game bans; Josh Donaldson, DeMarlo Hale fined), but more than a few were surprised that Pillar didn’t get a ban.
The reason Elvis Andrus threw a punch, which missed, at Pillar was because Pillar was extending the melee. Don’t believe me? Read that quote again.
MLB got that one wrong.
3. It says here that Odor never thought he would get eight games, even though the Rangers were bracing for that. So, he is appealing and maybe via some negotiating between Odor’s agent, the players association and MLB, a few games will get shave off.
There will be roster fallout, as a suspended player can’t be replaced. The Rangers will have 24 players for the extent of Odor’s suspension. They’re currently playing with two extra relievers, though one of the nine in the bullpen is Cesar Ramos, and he’ll be needed for spot start next week.
So the eighth man in the bullpen, either Andrew Faulkner, Alex Claudio or Luke Jackson, will be sent to the minors for either Jurickson Profar to replace Odor or to make room for Shin-Soo Choo as he comes off the disabled list Friday.
That leaves one more player who must go to the minors for Profar/Choo. Ryan Rua, Nomar Mazara and Hanser Alberto can be optioned, and Rua might draw the short straw for 10 days.
But wait. There’s more. If Odor’s appeal isn’t heard this week, which seems unlikely, or if his appeal is denied and he must serve eight games, he would still be suspended the day Yu Darvish is supposed to come off the disabled list, May 27.
At that point, Claudio, Faulkner or Jackson could go to the minors with Ramos resuming his role as long man and the Rangers going back to a seven-man bullpen.
One solution to this mess is to not bring up Profar, stick with Alberto at second and have Rua as his backup in a pinch. Ian Desmond would be the backup shortstop. That would easily get Choo on the roster by just optioning an extra reliever.
The Rangers seem to be leaning toward Profar, though.
Of course, it’s late and I’m catching a cold, so I could be entirely wrong.