Enjoy the off day Thursday, Texas Rangers, for it will be the last one until after Father’s Day.
Beginning Friday, the Rangers will embark on 20 games in 20 days, the longest stretch permitted by the CBA without players approving a longer one. It was a 17-in-17 stretch until the April 17 rainout with the Baltimore Orioles, a game that was rescheduled for a June 20 mutual off day.
The Rangers will play Friday through June 22, and some have committed to come to Globe Life Park on June 23 for the sold-out Do It For Durrett Texas’ Got Talent event.
The longest stretch factored into Wednesday’s 5-4 loss in 11 innings, though so did the first two months.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a long night at Progressive Field.
1. Matt Bush said that his arm feels strong after appearing in 10 of the Rangers’ final 17 games in May. New closer Sam Dyson would never admit to being fatigued, even though he entered Wednesday with the second-most appearances (27) in the American League.
Jake Diekman is always willing to take the ball, too, and Tony Barnette has a similar track record.
But there is no mistaking that the primary pieces, the winning pieces, in the Rangers’ bullpen have worked more than was expected before the season. Then again, the bullpen was expected to be stocked with six relievers who could close games.
That was before Keone Kela was injured, Tom Wilhelmsen stunk and was sent to Triple A, and Shawn Tolleson faltered as the closer. Bush has been effective filling one of those three voids.
So, nights like Wednesday happen, when the manager sucks it up and decides that his overworked relievers need rest for the long haul. With an off day Thursday, the chance to get Dyson, Diekman, Bush and Barnette two days while missing one game was too inviting for Jeff Banister, even at the risk of losing a game.
51 Combined appearances this season for Sam Dyson (27) and Jake Diekman (24)
That puts relievers like Luke Jackson and Alex Claudio into situations they normally don’t see, but they’re on the big-league roster to get outs and need to do it if the bullpen is going to survive 162 games.
The Rangers play to win the games, and that’s how Banister has been managing. The decision Wednesday was to try to ensure more victories down the road. Banister has tried to sneak in rest for the key guys, which is difficult to do when game after game is close. A four-run lead isn’t officially a save situation, but more and more managers treat it as such.
Blowouts help. Days off, like Thursday’s, help. A complete game would help. The Rangers will need blowouts, longer outings by starters and a rebound by Tolleson, who is expected to return Friday, to help keep some gas in the bullpen’s tank during the upcoming 20-in-20 stretch.
Jackson and Claudio, or others who find themselves in that role, have to help, too. It won’t happen often that they appear in a game like the one they found themselves in Wednesday, but when they do they have to get outs.
2. Cole Hamels rebounded from his worst start of the season Friday by allowing three runs in seven innings on 110 pitches. It was good enough to put the Rangers in position to win the game. They just didn’t.
But the expectation is that he should do better. Hamels said he should have been better. That expectation is a burden Hamels wants.
Hamels hated the first-inning walk to Jason Kipnis, and paid for it when he left a cutter over the middle for the lefty-killing Mike Napoli. Hamels walked two straight with two outs in the fourth, which pushed his pitch count to the point where the eighth inning wasn’t even up for discussion.
He was unlucky in the fifth, when he made a quality pitch that Rajai Davis beat into the ground and then beat the throw to first base. Davis scored as Kipnis followed with a double.
Cole Hamels allowed his 13th homer of the season, a two-run shot to Mike Napoli in the first inning. Hamels has allowed a homer in five straight starts and nine during that stretch.
Hamels isn’t perfect, though he’s the closest thing the Rangers have to it. Darvish will likely join him, but it’s too early to put him in the same class as he comes back from Tommy John surgery.
Hamels expects to win each time out, and the Rangers expect to win each time he goes out. So does the fan base. So do the writers.
He pitched well enough Wednesday to win. The Rangers just didn’t. The expectation to some, though, was that Hamels should have been better, and he welcomes that.
3. Former Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd was hit Wednesday with a 162-game ban — that’s one full season — for a second positive test for performing-enhancing drugs and was not available for the Cleveland Indians in the series finale.
He went 5 for 8 in the first two games with a homer Monday night off Cesar Ramos.
Byrd told his teammates that his career is over. He’s baseball old, at 38, and no team next season is going to want to sign a 39-year-old two-time cheat. So, he’ll take it the house and fall back on more than $38 million he made in the game.
As soon as the embarrassment of being dumb enough to get caught cheating twice goes away, if he even is embarrassed, Byrd and generations of Byrds will find comfort in that they are financially secure.
32 Dollars, in millions, Marlon Bryd made after leaving the Rangers after the 2009 season despite two failed drug tests
The Rangers have had only one big-league player suspended for PEDs, and Nelson Cruz never failed a test. But he was caught up in the Biogenesis mess in 2013 a year after he got bad advice when looking for a short cut to help him recover strength following a stomach ailment that cost him 30 pounds before the 2012 season.
The Rangers, and all teams, stress that players only use supplements certified by NSF International. The list can be found with a simple Google search. Byrd apparently went off-list and was caught with secretagogue Ipamorelin, a growth hormone, in his system.
In this instance, the “secret” part of secretagogue has to do with secretion. But here’s tip: If the PED you want to take contains the word secret anywhere in it, it’s probably a good idea to not take it.
Unless you want to make $38 million in baseball and have no worries about your legacy.