Texas Rangers

Rangers reaction: Wild card slipping away as West officially lost

Rangers Jeff Banister laments a five-run sixth in Friday loss to Angels

Rangers manager Jeff Banister discusses the bullpen's inability to hold a two-run lead as the Angels score five in sixth and hold on for 7-6 win Friday night.
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Rangers manager Jeff Banister discusses the bullpen's inability to hold a two-run lead as the Angels score five in sixth and hold on for 7-6 win Friday night.

This isn’t going to end well, is it? The Texas Rangers lost their fourth consecutive game Friday night and wasted a huge opportunity to gain some ground in the wild card race.

The Angels held on for a 7-6 win at Angels Stadium after storming past the Rangers with a five-run sixth. Yep, that bullpen, stitched together with some emergency thread and Elmer’s, is starting to crack in every direction.

The loss officially eliminated the Rangers from the American League West title race, which the Astros unofficially clinched six months ago (Don’t do the math). It’s a title the Rangers had won the past two seasons but never really contended for in 2017. Not only did they struggle early, the Astros were the best team in the majors for the first two months. It was only a matter of time. The Angels, who are in second place, will soon be eliminated from the division race, as will the third-place Mariners.

The Rangers, who just a week ago had as good a shot at a wild-card berth as most of the other teams in the race, were five games back of the second wild card spot with four teams in front of them after Friday’s games. The Rangers (72-75) have 15 games remaining. If they won all of them they’d still finish with a worse record than the 2015 team (88-74). But they’re not going to do that and they’re not going to leapfrog four teams.

As you read this Rangers Reaction from another loss Friday night tagged to the bullpen, play this Paul Simon classic for some mood music:

1. No relief — There are many reasons why the Rangers have struggled in 2017. But when the epitaph of season is written, the bullpen should have a starring role. Sure, the offense and specific players inside the offense have struggled. And the starting pitching has also been hit or miss. The bullpen, however, from Sam Dyson’s struggles on Opening Day to Matt Bush’s struggles in May, to the inexperienced arms they relied on Friday night, has been the biggest letdown. Only two teams have a higher bullpen ERA than the Rangers’ 4.68.

Starter Nick Martinez gave way to the pen with one out, a runner on second and the Rangers clinging to a 4-3 lead. Yohander Mendez walked Kole Calhoun and was replaced by Ricky Rodriguez, who surrendered a game-tying single to Andrelton Simmons. Luis Valbuena’s sacrifice fly scored the go-ahead run before C.J. Cron capped the rally with a two-run homer. Game basically over. Season basically over.

Rangers starter Nick Martinez allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings Friday but didn't factor in the decision as the Angels won 7-6.

2. Star Wars Night — The Rangers have been in Anaheim for the Angels’ Star Wars Night for consecutive seasons. Most clubs, including the Rangers, have incorporated a Star Wars Night or two. Fans attending Friday’s game received a Rally Monkey dressed in an X-Wing fighter pilot’s uniform. Rangers players were displayed as Empire characters (the bad guys from Star Wars, for you Emily Joneses of the world) on the video board, and Angels were displayed as the Rebel heroes. During a half inning early in the game they played a baseball blooper reel interspersed with Star Wars scenes. Typically, I wouldn’t be impressed with another blooper reel, but this thing included just about every crazy play going way back. Whoever put it together did an out-of- this-world job. The Force was strong with them. (My apologies.)

star wars night
Five-year-old Elijah Crandall, right, meets actors dressed up as Star Wars characters, Darth Vader, left, and C-3PO before the Rangers’ game against the Angels Friday night in Anaheim. Mark J. Terrill AP

3. Power outage — The Rangers no longer lead the majors in homers. The Orioles now lead with 224. The Rangers have 223 after hitting just four in their past seven games, including Shin-Soo Choo’s two-run, opposite-field shot that gave the Rangers a brief 4-2 lead in the sixth Friday.

Rangers’ most homers in a season:

Year

HR

2005

260

2001

246

2003

239

2002

230

1999

230

2004

227

2009

224

2017

223

1996

221

2016

215

2011

210

4. And now pitching ... You knew it was going to be a long night when Angels manager Mike Scioscia had the bullpen up in the second inning when starter Bud Norris had only allowed one hit. Over nine innings, the Angels used seven pitchers and the Rangers used five. Miraculously, the game clocked in at only 3:20, which for these two teams (two of the slowest teams in the league), isn’t all that bad, especially with a combined 12 pitches.

5. A cheer for Chirinos — Robinson Chirinos was named the Rangers’ Marvin Miller Man of the Year nominee by his teammates. The award is presented to the “players whose on-field performance and contributions to his community most inspire others to higher levels of achievement.”

Michael Young is a past winner. No current Rangers player does more in the community than Chirinos, so the honor is well-deserved. Fans choose the six finalists from each division. To cast your ballot click here.

Voting ends at midnight on Sunday.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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