The hero from Saturday night found himself in a position Sunday afternoon to again lift the Texas Rangers, who hadn’t had trouble scoring runs in the first two games of their series against Oakland.
So, as manager Jeff Banister pointed out, it’s probably not entirely fair to make Rougned Odor shoulder all the blame for the Rangers’ 7-1 loss.
Odor wasn’t the only hitter with a chance to finally get to Sonny Gray, and Odor alone didn’t strand all 14 runners the Rangers left on base.
He didn’t throw either of the two pitches that Stephen Vogt hit for home runs. He didn’t throw wildly to first base and allow a run to score. He didn’t opt to stick with Yovani Gallardo a batter or two too long.
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Indeed, as Banister said, there was plenty of blame to go around in the series finale at Globe Life Park.
“Fourteen left on base is not how you draw it up,” Banister said. “But also, you’ve got to realize that the cat on the mound who started the game had something to do with that, too. He’s the real deal.”
Gray ran his scoreless streak against the Rangers to 23 2/3 innings after tossing 6 2/3 scoreless Sunday. He allowed only two hits after allowing just one in eight innings on Opening Day, and he struck out 10.
But Gray was not at his best. He walked a career-high seven, becoming the first pitcher in nearly 15 years to walk at least seven and strike out at least 10 while working at least six scoreless innings.
“I’m not really sure what he did,” designated hitter Prince Fielder said. “He was either on the corners or it was a ball.
“When he got runners in scoring position, he kind of locked in a little bit, threw some good pitches.”
The Rangers’ batters weren’t at their best when it mattered, and Odor, who stranded six runners, was a chief violator. Adrian Beltre stranded eight.
“You’ve got to put those competitive at-bats together and push those runs across when you get a chance,” Banister said. “I could point out a number of guys. I’m not sure why we’re just focusing on Odor.”
Odor is batting .148. He has six hits in his past 49 at-bats. He saw 10 pitches while striking out three times, twice against Gray, and hit a chopper to first base with one out and the bases loaded in the fourth.
The Rangers had a runner at third with no outs in that inning and failed to score. They went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position, and the one hit didn’t score a runner.
Only the 1982 team, which lost 98 games, has started a season with a worse record after 24 games than these 8-16 Rangers.
The Rangers still haven’t won back-to-back games, and they still haven’t won a series. Next up are the Houston Astros, winners of 10 straight, so both a winning streak and a winning series seem unlikely.
“It’s going to be tough,” Fielder said.
By the time the Rangers scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Shin-Soo Choo in the ninth inning, they were down 7-0.
They trailed 2-0 when Gallardo was pulled in the seventh after 118 pitches in 6 2/3 innings. Gallardo retired the first two A’s, but allowed a single to Josh Reddick and a walk to Mark Canha before being pulled.
Alex Claudio replaced him and surrendered a three-run homer to Vogt, who homered off Claudio in spring training. Vogt also had a solo homer in the sixth inning after the A’s had scored an unearned run in the fifth on a two-out throwing error by Elvis Andrus.
The Rangers weren’t going batter-to-batter with Gallardo, despite his pitch count, as evidenced by not having a right-hander warmed and ready to face Canha after the Reddick hit.
“I felt good, to be honest with you,” Gallardo said.
Reddick connected for a two-run homer in the ninth off Roman Mendez, who was in the middle of the Rangers’ bullpen meltdown Friday. Rangers relievers issued 12 runs in this three-game series.
So, as Banister said, it wasn’t entirely fair to pile on Odor. There was plenty of blame to go around Sunday.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760