April came in like a lion for the Rangers. And it just about devoured them whole.
The first month of the season drew to a close Wednesday night at Globe Life Park with a fitting 5-2 loss to the Mariners.
The offensive struggles that have plagued the club through the first 21 games continued for the most part Wednesday.
The Rangers twice collected two hits in an inning, and scored twice in the second to briefly pull even with the Mariners. Adrian Beltre opened the inning with a walk and scored on Carlos Peguero’s double to deep center. With two outs, Peguero scored on Carlos Corporan’s single to left. For the Rangers lately, this constitutes offensive fireworks.
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For much of the month, Texas has failed to show much at the plate. The Rangers have scored three or fewer runs 13 times. They’ve been held to one run in three of their last five games and have lost six of their last seven.
It’s the first losing April for the Rangers (7-14) since they went 10-11 in 2010. It’s the first time since 1985 that Texas has won fewer than nine games in a non-strike-shortened April.
“We got a day off. Yeah, we can flip the calendar,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
A day off Thursday may come in handy. The Rangers open a three-game series against Oakland at 7:05 p.m. Friday in Arlington.
The defense on Wednesday made a run at the offense as the team’s current biggest issue. The Rangers made four errors and perhaps should have been charged with a fifth on a ball that got past Kyle Blanks at first.
Add in a couple of wild pitches, including one that allowed an unearned Mariners run in the ninth, and you can understand the frustration for Banister.
“We need to play clean baseball. Yeah, we put a premium on that in spring training,” he said. “[We] actually changed our routine. Running our guys out early for ground ball sessions. That will get cleaned up. Pitching and defense, that’s a premium.”
The Rangers have 21 errors in their first 21 games, second most in the majors and most in the American League. Their team .210 batting average is the lowest in the big leagues.
“It says we need to be better. We will be better. I think that also goes without saying when you look at the numbers,” Banister said before the game. “That speaks for itself. If we have 15 hits tonight it doesn’t change that. It is what it is. When we get caught up worrying about where that number stands that’s not going to do us any good either.”
It’s not just that a few guys are struggling for the Rangers. The entire lineup has been fighting uphill, even Prince Fielder of late. Fielder’s batting average has fallen more than 50 points in the past seven games to .333. The Rangers’ top three hitters Wednesday — Leonys Martin, Rougned Odor and Fielder — combined to go 1 for 12 with two strikeouts. The Rangers only had six base runners (five hits, one walk) the entire game. Mariners pitchers retired the final 13 hitters.
Felix Hernandez (4-0) earned the win after holding Texas to two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Wandy Rodriguez (0-1) took the loss in his second start for the Rangers after allowing four runs on five hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings.
“I felt like against Felix tonight there were some quality at-bats,” Banister said. “We had some opportunities to put a couple runs on the board.”
But the timely hits (or hits, in general) have been hard to come by in April for the Rangers.