First, the good news. The Astros lost to the A’s, so the Rangers’ lead in the American League West remained stuck at 4 1/2 games.
The bad news? The Rangers allowed a four-run lead to disappear Monday night and wasted an opportunity to gain a game with a sloppy 9-5 loss to the Angels. Three thoughts after another loss for the Rangers, who have now lost 11 of their past 13 games:
1. Preventing prevailing trends — Are the Rangers still in first place? Do they still own one of the best records in the majors? Could things be worse? Yes, to all the above. But the Rangers are in dire need of a couple wins in Anaheim after losing the opener. Not because a series win over the Angels will provide a boost in the standings or catapult the Rangers back in the right direction (although that’s possible), or that a couple of wins means everything smells fresh again in Denmark (or something). No. But it would curb the tide of negativity, however mild, in the Rangers’ clubhouse, and perhaps instigate a better stretch of baseball the remainder of July. They last won a series on June 26 (a span of five series, including a split).
2. Unclean baseball — The Rangers only committed one error Monday night, a fielding error by Rougned Odor in the fifth inning. But there were several plays not marked as errors in the box score that could have altered the course of the game. Odor, who has made seven errors in 14 July games, made an impressive diving stop to his left in the seventh inning and threw home to catcher Bobby Wilson, who couldn’t pick the short hop out of the dirt. In the fourth, Mike Trout loaded the bases with an infield single off Adrian Beltre’s glove. The hot shot was fairly ruled a hit, but Beltre has made the play before. Instead of a potential double play, the bases were loaded for Albert Pujols, who walked in a run. A.J. Griffin walked three batters in the inning, including the first two, after retiring the first nine of the game. Griffin was at a loss to explain what happened. So was manager Jeff Banister.
“I don’t have a good explanation for you. I just know we didn’t throw strikes. You give up two free ones right there and three of them in an inning, I mean that’ll get runs scored on you,” he said. “We’ve got to play cleaner. Eliminate the freebies. I feel like our offense has an opportunity to score runs.”
Wilson took the blame on the play in the seventh, although it was a tough catch. The ball bounced in front of a bat near the plate and didn’t make a true bounce on the soft dirt near home.
“He made such a good play there so you feel terrible because you want to finish that play,” Wilson said. “If I pick that ball clean we might have a shot at him. This is the big leagues, you like to make those plays.”
3. Historic homers — Texas hit three homers in Monday’s loss, two of which were different levels of historic. Adrian Beltre’s solo homer in the first, which followed Odor’s two-run homer, was the 426th of his career. He moves into a tie with Miguel Cabrera and Billy Williams for 48th all-time. Beltre needs two more to pass Mike Piazza to move into 47th place and six more to pass Cal Ripken into 46th all-time.
Mitch Moreland’s second-inning homer was the 100th of his career.
“Obviously, what he’s done is pretty special,” said Moreland, who has 12 homers this season. “It’s nice to be able to do it, but what he’s done is incredible. As long as he’s played and as many times that he’s done that. We’ve probably got a few guys who have done it a lot more than I have. But it’s something I won’t forget.”