Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: Bullpen blows major-league worst 16th save

Ooof. How many times can this happen?

The Texas Rangers’ bullpen blew another save Friday night as the Chicago White Sox scored four runs in the final two innings, including three in the ninth against Matt Bush, to walk off with a stunning 8-7 win.

Stunning because it doesn’t seem possible that the Rangers could have so many bullpen meltdowns in one half of a season. It was Bush’s fifth blown save (in 15 chances) and the Rangers’ 16th in 80 games. That leads the majors.

The Rangers only blew 17 games during the entire 2016 season and six teams in the league had 16 or fewer blown saves.

Blowing in the wind

A look at the 16 blown saves for the Rangers so far in 2017:

Players

Opp.

Blown saves

Matt Bush

15

5

Tony Barnette

4

4

Sam Dyson

4

4

Alex Claudio

3

2

Keone Kela

2

1

Rangers manager Jeff Banister, who is typically stoic right after wins or losses, repeated a variation on the refrain “We’ve got to find a way to close out games” at least six times during his post-game visit with the media.

Here’s another gut punch Rangers Reaction:

1. If not Bush, who? — First, it’s certainly possible Bush could rediscover his mojo and grow into a more reliable closer. His stuff is still impressive. He got beat on a curve ball by Melky Cabrera, who shot it down the first-base line that drove in the tying and winning run. Alen Hanson slid in with the winning run past catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who couldn’t handle the relay throw from the outfield. If Banister wants to try somebody new, if for no other reason than to just give Bush a break, it’ll likely be Keone Kela. Or, at least it would be if he was healthy. Banister said Kela was unavailable Friday because of a sore shoulder. Do you throw 23-year-old rookie Jose Leclerc in the spot? He threw  1 1/3 scoreless innings Friday.

“When you’ve got the lead going into the ninth you expect your guys to make some pitches and close a game out,” Banister said. “You can have a few games that you miss but not at the rate we’ve been going.”

2. Gallo goes oppo — Joey Gallo hit his 21st home run in the third inning, an opposite-field smash to left-center field that Statcast estimated went 454 feet. It’s the longest opposite-field home run of the season, according to Statcast.

3. “My favorite teammate” — White Sox pitcher Derek Holland, who starts his first game against his former team Saturday afternoon, was asked about Adrian Beltre’s quest for 3,000 hits. He’s 30 hits from the milestone.

Holland couldn’t resist the humor opportunity.

“I hope that doesn’t come against me, I know he’s a little shy of that,” Holland joked. “If that comes tomorrow that means we gave up a lot of hits and runs.”

But seriously, folks, Holland said he cherished his time playing with the 38-year-old future Hall of Famer.

“It’s awesome. He’s by far one of my favorite teammates. The way he carries himself and works. The way he’s played through some injuries. He was always the leader in the clubhouse and it was huge,” Holland said. “He made sure everyone was good [mentally]. He’s always got your back.”

Holland said Beltre’s presence made for a seamless transition in clubhouse leadership when Michael Young was traded during the 2012 off-season.

“There are not enough words to really say how good of a teammate he was and how much he’s taken over since Michael Young left,” he said. “He picked up right there and that was huge. It was a great pick up by the front office. He’s continued to show that every year he’s been there.”

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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