Just when everything was going smoothly, with the exception of at first base and at designated hitter and in half of the bullpen, the Texas Rangers have encountered a some more adversity.
It was too early to tell Wednesday night how long Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre would be out, though Darvish said that he is planning to make his next start Monday at Oakland.
Beltre was back in the training room after the game, so there was no word from him on how he feels.
Tom Wilhelmsen may or may not have been in the clubhouse after he was tagged with the loss, allowing two runs in the seventh inning, but deadlines prevented me from hanging around too long to wait him out.
The Rangers saw three streaks snapped: five wins overall, eight against the Astros to start the season, and 12 straight vs. the Astros at Globe Life Park.
No big deal, in the grand scheme of things.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from the big deals in a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros.
1. Beltre gets the leadoff spot after exiting in the eighth inning with what is being called left hamstring tightness. It was how he left, walking off the field during a pitching change before athletic trainer Kevin Harmon even got out of the dugout, that should be worrisome.
Beltre knows when he’s not right enough to play.
But maybe he was simply thinking that he wasn’t well enough to score from second base on a single, or maybe even a home run, and wanted to get healthier legs in the game.
Maybe he was thinking long-term and didn’t want to risk any further damage. Entirely possible.
Maybe he knows that the disabled list is his next destination.
The Rangers, though, have given Beltre time with past leg ailments before putting him on the shelf. That happened most recently early in the 2014 season, when the Rangers waited five games before placing him on the DL. That led to a brilliant week for Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Beltre is also one of the toughest players in the major leagues, so he might be want to start Thursday even though it was already scheduled to be a day off.
So, it might be a few days before anyone knows if Beltre is heading to the DL.
If he does have to sit out, the Rangers have three possible moves: Recall Joey Gallo from Triple A Round Rock, go with Jurickson Profar at third and recall Hanser Alberto to be the utility man, or recall Gallo and juggle his playing time with Profar’s.
Gallo is enjoying a nice season at Round Rock, with a .287/.428/.626 slash line with 29 walks and 36 strikeouts in 115 at-bats. And there’s this: He’s played first base in two of his past four games and five times overall since returning from the disabled list a few weeks ago.
2. The Rangers had to be jumping for joy inside when Darvish told them that his shoulder was tight and not his elbow. I’m a little surprised that pitching coach Doug Brocail wasn’t high-fiving guys during the mound meeting.
Darvish doesn’t seem to think his injury is serious, saying that its origins are around his neck. However, he has had minor shoulder/neck issues in the past that have caused him to miss starts.
The Rangers put him on the DL in 2013 because of it, conveniently wrapping it around the All-Star break for an extended break, and again to start the 2014 season when he was stricken during spring training.
It happened again later in 2014 at Minnesota, when he was pushed back a few days.
While Darvish is planning to pitch on turn Monday, he shouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers have other plans.
He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, so he’s being treated like a delicate flower anyway. A shoulder issue plus the elbow concerns might be enough to get him skipped or pushed back until later in the series at MLB’s worst ballpark.
The Rangers have been planning to drop a spot starter into the rotation during their current stretch of 20 games in 20 days. The shoulder/neck issue could give the Rangers their opening.
3. In all the cursing about Wilhelmsen, stop a moment and be encouraged by Shawn Tolleson’s outing. He was pressed into action sooner than he was probably expecting, as the man to replace Darvish, and he worked a scoreless inning in his first appearance since May 25.
Tolleson said before the game that he feels good and that he has been trying to stay sharp with flat-ground work. He also threw a bullpen session Wednesday before the game.
He that his goal now, as he works to get back into the mix late in the games, is to build up to where he can pitch multiple innings and give rest to the winning pieces — Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, Matt Bush and Tony Barnette.
It was only one outing, but maybe Tolleson is on his way.
Wilhelmsen ran into trouble in the seventh when he allowed a leadoff single to No. 8 hitter Marwin Gonzalez. George Springer followed two batters later with a single, and Jose Altuve brought both home with a the game-winning double to left field.
Wilhelmsen rebounded with a 1-2-3 eighth, but the damage had been done.
For those calling for his dismissal or another option to Triple A Round Rock, it’s not going to happen yet. He pitched well enough in his second inning to stick around, but he might not be pitching again in a tied game for a while.