If you were hemming and hawing as to whether the Rangers needed to find another starter (or two!), the past few days probably swayed you.
For the third consecutive game the Rangers starter failed to get past the fifth inning. Yes, Cole Hamels was one of the offenders sandwiched between poor starts by Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez, who was charged with six runs on 11 hits in just 4 1/3 innings in the Rangers’ 12-5 loss to the Red Sox Monday afternoon.
There’s no getting around the fact that with Colby Lewis and Derek Holland out until late August and late July, respectfully, the rotation has a couple massive holes to fill. And so far the minor league options aren’t working. It doesn’t mean neither Martinez nor Gonzalez won’t eventually be successful big league pitchers. Only that in the summer of 2016 they don’t appear to be ready. Gonzalez will get another shot with a Thursday start against the Twins. Martinez could get another start, too. The Rangers are likely to make a move for another star and reliever by the trade deadline. But until then?
Here’s three thoughts from the Rangers Independence Day downer at Fenway, including possible stop-gap options in the rotation until general manager Jon Daniels pulls off another “big” coup.
1. Rotation options — Yu Darvish is likely to return to the rotation for the Cubs series in Chicago after the All-Star break. That gives the Rangers a solid four-man mix with Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, A.J. Griffin and Darvish. The fifth starter could be a “show me what you got” alternation with Gonzalez and Martinez, or even Cesar Ramos. Or the Rangers could bring up Kyle Lohse from Triple A Round Rock. The 37-year-old veteran has pitched well in his past two starts, including Saturday. He had a scoreless four-hitter through six before giving up two home runs in the seventh. In his past two starts he’s allowed five earned runs on 11 hits and three walks over 13 innings.
2. The Quiet Room — After the Rangers loss Monday, their third straight and fifth in the past six games, the post-game clubhouse was a new level of quiet. Perhaps the small visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park lends itself to a more staid losing atmosphere because players and coaches are just a few feet from one another. As I mentioned on Twitter afterward, I’m still relatively new to the beat so I haven’t been in a lot of quiet losing clubhouses but Monday’s struck me as ultra quiet. Does it mean anything? No, not really. It’s not to imply that the Rangers are down in the dumps. That’s not the case. The mood had more of an air of annoyance and anger at the current spate of outcomes, especially after the offense jumped out with four first-inning runs. Fox Sports Southwest broadcaster Emily Jones, who has covered the team for 25 years (I kid!) disagreed that the clubhouse seemed extra quiet. Losing clubhouses are always quiet. That is true. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I forgot to take my noise-canceling ear buds out.
3. No, that wasn’t a Black Cat you just heard, the Red Sox just blasted another double off the wall — Fenway Park is a beautiful cathedral to the game. No getting around that. I love the place — the smells, the colors, the ambiance. Covering my first game there was a thrill. I’d been to the park a few other times as a paying customer. That’s the preferred experience. In the sun, Fenway Frank in hand, soaking in the good vibes — that’s heaven. Few settings in America are more ideal for a Fourth of July baseball game. Unless your name, however, is Martinez or Michael Roth. The Red Sox belted out a season-high 21 hits (11 against Martinez), including nine doubles and four homers. The 13 extra-base hits tied the Rangers’ record for XBH allowed in a game, set by the Red Sox in April 2013. Fenway, for all its charms and idiosyncrasies, can be a nightmare for inexperienced outfielders trying to judge and predict how a ball is going to carom off the different angles down the lines and on the warning track. Nomar Mazara had a few adventures that left him shaking his head. It’s a different kind of game at Fenway, especially when your offense is capable of slugging 13 XBH.