Yu Darvish could consider himself lucky, if that’s how he wanted to look at his day.
He was on a plane back to Texas when the 17-5 mess at Target Field was unfolding.
Of course, he has to go to Springdale, Ark., on Monday to pitch in a Double A game on rehab assignment, so he might not call himself lucky. And it’s going be 100 degrees in the Metroplex while the rest of the Texas Rangers will be basking in the glorious Minnesota weather.
And he’s missing a team dinner at a fancy-pants downtown restaurant.
And, really, after the fifth inning the blowout to the Minnesota Twins was a foregone conclusion and really not a something that was going to ruin the Rangers’ day or season.
I’ll take a night at home any day.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from Saturday’s lopsided loss.
1. Position players pitching is never a good thing, no matter how enjoyable it is for the fans.
For one, the team using the position player is usually getting smoked, though occasionally a long extra-innings game forces a position player to the mound.
Another reason managers try to avoid it is the injury risk. Infielder Ryan Goins pitched a scoreless frame Friday for Toronto in extra innings, and Saturday he ended up on the disabled list.
Managers don’t like to do it. Position players don’t like to talk about it. But it happens.
“We really didn’t need to have another pitcher out on the mound for us on a day like that,” manager Jeff Banister said. “You really never want to do it. I’m not a big fan of it. Obviously, integrity of the game and everything else. But sometimes, you’ve got to make some decisions that are the best for the guys out there.”
The Rangers called upon Bryan Holaday on Saturday down 17-5. The catcher responded by retiring all four batters he faced, using a 78-mph fastball and a knuckleball type of pitch that he calls a hybrid. He didn’t reach 60 mph with it and at least once didn’t reach 60 feet.
Yet, yuks ensued afterward in the Rangers’ clubhouse.
Of the fact that he has faced six hitters as a professional and retired them all, Holaday said, “Hopefully I don’t get overexposed.”
Of his knuckleball that Eduardo Nunez swung at so hard that he fell to the ground, Holaday said, “I don’t know if I take much pride in it, but it was funny. I’m happy about it, I guess.”
Of his knuckleball, “I mess around with it every day. It’s a hybrid. It’s not a true knuckleball. It’s what I’ve got.”
Overall, his experience as the 10th position player in Rangers history to pitch was memorable. It was the 12th appearance by a position player, with infielders Jeff Kunkel and Adam Rosales logging two appearances.
“It was fun, but, obviously, no one wants that,” Holaday said. “I’m just glad I could help out and save some arms.”
2. Prediction: Chi Chi Gonzalez is the Rangers’ starting pitcher Thursday at Globe Life Park against the Twins.
He wasn’t given a chance to show how good or bad he was Saturday as the defense foiled him in the first inning and he was removed after only two outs and 38 pitches.
“Super frustrating,” he said.
If a few plays are actually made, including him making a better throw to Rougned Odor at second base instead of a sinker at the knees that Odor missed, Gonzalez gets another inning and probably as many as five.
The miscues cost him a pile of extra pitches, and manager Jeff Banister thought the 38-pitch inning was enough for a young pitcher to bear.
Banister wants to see less off-speed stuff from Gonzalez and more fastballs. Gonzalez was pleased with his sinker usage, and got a pick-me-up from sinkerballer Martin Perez to throw enough groundballs to get out of the inning.
It just didn’t happen.
Gonzalez hasn’t developed as quickly as the Rangers would have liked after they used a first-round pick on him in 2013 and after the terrific start to his career last season.
They keep asking him to work on a curveball and creating a great velocity difference between his fastball and off-speed pitches, yet he isn’t getting the time in the minors he needs to do it.
But he’s the best option from what the Rangers had in Triple A. He’s pitching better than Kyle Lohse, and he has a spot on the 40-man roster that Lohse and Michael Roth don’t have.
Gonzalez might make only one more start before heading back to the minors, with Darvish possibly ready to come off the disabled list to start the second half.
But Gonzalez should get one more start.
3. Because so many on the Twitter remain inconsolable about the state of the Rangers, who have lost three of four yet continue to have the most victories in the major leagues, I’ll give in and take a gander at what the Rangers will do about the pitching staff over the next couple weeks.
Ready? Nothing major.
Oh, they will dig into the minors to get a reliever or two to eat up innings after Cesar Ramos and Luke Jackson wore themselves out and maybe wore out their welcome Saturday.
Jackson can be optioned, so he’s almost certain to go down. Ramos can’t be optioned, so he might get to stay. Eric Surkamp, claimed Wednesday and on the 40-man roster, could be on his way up.
Now, the Rangers will do something by the end of the month.
The last word from general manager Jon Daniels is that no trades are imminent as the Rangers try to figure out what their needs truly are.
The rotation could probably use a starter with Colby Lewis out two months and Derek Holland not currently throwing. If the Rangers don’t think they can rely on Holland’s health, they need to get a starter.
The bullpen could use an arm, but the Rangers have been intending to add a reliever all along.
Strictly spitballing here, they’re more likely to seek a starter or a reliever who is controllable for a few seasons (i.e. no rental pieces). From a relief standpoint, Jeremy Jeffress in Milwaukee and Arodys Vizcaino in Atlanta fit that description.
A couple of high-profile starters are young and controllable, but I don’t see Chicago parting with Chris Sale or Oakland parting with Sonny Gray. The Rangers also might not want to give up the kind of prospects it would take to pry one of those aces away.
The good news on the bullpen is that Shawn Tolleson is looking sharp again and that Keone Kela will be back to start the second half. Those are two significant developments for a bullpen that disappointed from the outset of the season after having such lofty expectations put upon it.
The trade deadline this year is Aug. 1 (thanks to Mike Peasley for the reminder). Regardless of when it is, the Rangers will be making moves ahead of it.
But not even they know for sure what they’re going to do, and it could be until the end of the month before anyone else does.