Wednesday’s scheduled game at Globe Life Park wasn’t just an ordinary game for the Texas Rangers, and Thursday’s off day isn’t just an ordinary off day.
Not after 20 games in 20 days, with a mesmerizing 16 of the first 19 lasting at least three hours.
That doesn’t include rain stoppages, like the one that delayed the first pitch of Wednesday’s finale of a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox. In the end it didn’t matter as the Rangers won 8-2.
It has been a really long three weeks.
“When you’re winning it’s easy,” center fielder Carlos Gomez said. “When you’re losing, it’s something that’s tough.”
A delay of 1 hour, 26 minutes got the Rangers and Red Sox started late. But the victory allowed the Rangers to avoid a three-game sweep and was their first win in six games this season against Boston.
The Rangers entered Wednesday 8-11 in the first 19 games of the 20-in-20. They were one game below .500 when the stretch started June 16, and a loss in No. 20 would leave them five below.
Their playoff hopes went from a maybe, one game out of the second wild card with four teams ahead of them, to uhhh, maybe, 3 1/2 games back entering Wednesday with six teams to pass.
Never expected to be buyers at the trade deadline, the Rangers are playing as if they will be sellers after losing 6 of 7 games.
Fatigue has been noticeable of late, especially during Monday’s 11-4 rout. The Rangers might have been a half-step slow in the field and on the bases. They didn’t grind out too many at-bats against David Price.
“There were those spots where you could tell that it was 19 of 20, and some of them have been grueling,” manager Jeff Banister said. “There have been some disappointing ones. There are certain parts of it where you can see where some of it has taken it’s toll.”
These stretches are tough on everyone, especially with half of the games on the road, but a bullpen is usually the most taxed. The Rangers’ bullpen was taxed before the stretch started, and things didn’t get any better.
The Rangers used 12 different relievers, including starter Nick Martinez. They saw Tony Barnette go to the disabled list the day the stretch started, and Jeremy Jeffress and Keone Kela landed on the DL during the stretch.
Ernesto Frieri and Jason Grilli were added from outside the organization. Preston Claiborne and Tanner Scheppers had their contracts purchased from Triple A Round Rock. Frieri and Claiborne were later designated for assignment.
The bullpen took six of the losses, including three by Matt Bush. He also blew three save chances.
“Some of the tough on the bullpen is self-induced,” Banister said. “But there are those challenges throughout stretches like that.”
Left-hander Alex Claudio appeared in nine of the first 19, and Bush found himself in eight. Claudio said that the coaching staff did its best to keep the bullpen rested, and he doesn’t feel fatigued despite leading the team in appearances.
Every lineup regular received a day at designated hitter or out of the starting lineup, including second baseman Rougned Odor on Sunday for the first time this season.
“I work a lot during the off-season to be healthy during the season,” Claudio said. “You trust in yourself. If you think that you’re tired, you’re going to be tired. The communication has been good. They always tell me if I need a day off, just let them know.”
The Rangers are finally getting a chance to come up for air before playing host to the Los Angeles Angels this weekend to close out the first half. Conveniently, the All-Star break follows.
“We have [three] games until the break, and we have to finish hard,” Gomez said. “Right now is no time to be frustrated.”
Rangers vs. Angels
7:05 p.m. Friday, FSSW