Texas Rangers

From first to worst: Rangers’ ‘luck’ in one-run games flipped in 2017

Rangers relief pitcher Nick Gardewine turns the ball over to manager Jeff Banister during a game Thursday at Globe Life Park. Injuries helped wreck the Rangers’ bullpen as the season wore along in 2017 and meant untested players had to fill key roles down the stretch.
Rangers relief pitcher Nick Gardewine turns the ball over to manager Jeff Banister during a game Thursday at Globe Life Park. Injuries helped wreck the Rangers’ bullpen as the season wore along in 2017 and meant untested players had to fill key roles down the stretch. AP

Much was made, a season ago, of the Texas Rangers’ ridiculously good record in one-run games.

They were 36-11, the best major league mark since 1901. No other team won more than 28 one-run games in 2016. The 36 one-run wins are the most since 1993, when the Royals won 38 and the Braves won 37. But both those clubs also lost 32 and 22 one-run games.

There’s no doubt the Rangers’ ability to win one-run games in 2016 was integral to winning an American League-high 95 games.

The inverse of that is also true.

Texas lost the series opener 7-6 to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night to drop to 13-23 in one-run games, the lowest winning percentage (.361) in the majors this season.

The Rangers didn’t lose by one run on Saturday, but by two, a 2-0 win by the Angels, who moved to within one game of the second AL wild-card berth.

So what happened on the one-run games? If the Rangers were so “lucky” in ’16, as so many proffered, where did the luck go in ’17?

Teams often make their own luck ... and whatever the opposite of that is.

A statistic this random has many mothers, but one stands out as the mother of all reasons: The bullpen.

Texas has lost 38 games it was leading, which is tied for third most in the AL and 10 more than the entire 2016 season. Remember, there are still two weeks remaining. The Rangers’ combined bullpen ERA of 4.68 is third worst in the majors and the bullpen’s WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning) is 1.49, second highest behind the Tigers’ 1.53. Not a recipe for winning, much less winning one-run games.

One additional alarming factoid? Rangers relievers have pitched the sixth-fewest innings in the majors this season. Of those five teams with fewer relief innings only the Giants have a losing record.

Friday night, for example, starter Nick Martinez left with a runner on second base, one out and the Rangers leading 4-3. A combination of Yohander Mendez and Ricky Rodriguez, however, couldn’t make it hold as the Angels ripped off a five-run sixth inning.

Manager Jeff Banister was trying to stay away from some of his more experienced relievers. Keone Kela, who has dealt with right shoulder soreness for much of the season, was unavailable. Matt Bush is still dealing with a right knee sprain, and Banister is hesitant to push Jake Diekman too hard after he returned from multiple surgeries to remove and rebuild his colon.

Banister has no plans, at the moment, to shelve any of his banged-up relievers the final two weeks, but he’s cognizant of doing long-term damage.

“There are long-term implications here. We’re still going to monitor them going forward,” he said. “Kela won’t be out there back-to-back days. [Diekman] will tell me he can pitch every inning, every day and we’re not going to do that. This is a big-time player for us going forward also.”

Same goes for Alex Claudio, who has thrown a career-high 77 innings, two shy of matching his total major league innings from the previous three seasons combined.

“Some of those other guys have to be able to come in and do the job for us, too,” Banister said. “It’s who we have. They’re going to pitch.”

Angels 2, Rangers 0

Texas

000

000

000

0

3

0

Los Angeles

100

000

01x

2

4

0

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

DeShields cf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.280

Choo rf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.262

Andrus ss

4

0

1

0

0

2

.301

Beltre dh

4

0

0

0

0

0

.307

Gallo 1b

2

0

1

0

1

1

.211

Chirinos c

2

0

0

0

1

2

.269

Odor 2b

3

0

0

0

0

2

.210

W.Calhoun lf

3

0

0

0

0

2

.077

Robinson 3b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.213

Mazara ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.257

Middlebrooks 3b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.250

Totals 29

0

3

0

2

11

Los Angeles AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Trout cf

3

0

0

0

1

0

.314

Upton lf

3

2

2

2

1

0

.281

Pujols dh

4

0

0

0

0

2

.244

Simmons ss

2

0

1

0

2

0

.282

Cron 1b

2

0

0

0

1

0

.256

K.Calhoun rf

3

0

0

0

0

2

.246

Maldonado c

3

0

0

0

0

1

.221

Valbuena 3b

3

0

0

0

0

0

.199

Pennington 2b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.264

Totals 26

2

4

2

5

5

LOB—Texas 4, Los Angeles 5. 2B—Gallo (18). HR—Upton (30), off Hamels; Upton (31), off Hamels. RBIs—Upton 2 (103). CS—Gallo (2), Simmons (5). Runners left in scoring position—Texas 2 (Beltre, W.Calhoun); Los Angeles 2 (Cron 2). RISP—Texas 0 for 3; Los Angeles 0 for 2. GIDP—Upton. DP—Texas 1 (Andrus, Odor, Gallo).

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Hamels, L, 10-4

7 1/3

4

2

2

4

5

105

3.96

Barnette

 2/3

0

0

0

1

0

13

4.64

Los Angeles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Bridwell, W, 8-2

6

3

0

0

2

7

90

3.71

Middleton, H, 9

1

0

0

0

0

2

10

4.38

Bedrosian, H, 9

1

0

0

0

0

0

18

3.60

Petit, S, 4-5

1

0

0

0

0

2

11

2.09

Bridwell pitched to 1 batter in the 7th. Inherited runners-scored—Middleton 1-0. Umpires—Home, Sam Holbrook; First, D.J. Reyburn; Second, Greg Gibson; Third, Ramon De Jesus. T—2:45. A—40,719 (43,250).

One-run wins

2016

Team

Win. %

Rangers

36-11

.766

Yankees

24-12

.667

Tigers

26-17

.604

Nationals

26-19

.578

Indians

28-21

.571

Orioles

21-16

.568

DBacks

22-17

.564

Phillies

28-23

.549

Mets

25-22

.532

Astros

28-25

.528

2017

Team

Record

Win. %

Mariners

26-13

.667

Rockies

21-11

.656

Nationals

27-18

.600

Royals

21-14

.600

Cubs

21-15

.583

Dodgers

23-17

.575

Angels

26-20

.565

DBacks

27-21

.563

Indians

18-14

.563

Astros

16-13

.552

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

Rangers at Angels

2:37 p.m. Sunday, FSSW

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