Texas Rangers

Rangers don't back Fister in 2-1 loss to Mariners

Rougned Odor was tagged out by Mariners third baseman Corey Seager on a key pickoff/caught stealing that helped doom the Rangers on Monday.
Rougned Odor was tagged out by Mariners third baseman Corey Seager on a key pickoff/caught stealing that helped doom the Rangers on Monday. The Associated Press

Doug Fister worked one of his best games of the season Monday afternoon at Safeco Field, taking a shutout into the sixth and leaving in the seventh with his team down only a run.

Any team would take that start anytime, especially the 2018 Texas Rangers.

So slim is their margin for error that a six-inning quality start feels like a complete game. At the very least, it gives them a chance to win.

Six-plus innings and two runs allowed? All the offense has to do is score three.

But these Rangers can't count on their offense to do that, and they also can't count on their defense to play the way it must — nearly flawless.

Manager Jeff Banister said it best afterward.

"We're not a completely clean team right now," he said.

Catch of the year? Wow! @Rangers prospect Eric Jenkins plays for the Down East Wood Ducks in Kinston, N.C.

That was evident as the Seattle Mariners edged the Rangers 2-1 on Memorial Day. Fister's solid work was spoiled by two pickoffs at second base and a bobble by Rougned Odor on a potential double-play grounder.

Banister said there was more good than bad in the Rangers' second straight loss, but the bad did too much damage.

"There were a few negatives in there for us," Banister said. "Picked off a couple different times in a situation where our offense ... when we have run-scoring opportunities, we can't make those types of mistakes."

The biggest gaffe didn't go down as an error, as the Rangers got an out, but it was a play that wasn't made. The Rangers were up 1-0 in the sixth and had one out with a runner at first when Denard Span sent a one-hop grounder right to Odor.

The second baseman didn't field it cleanly, and he could only record one out at second base when a double play would have ended the inning.

Shin-Soo Choo's walk-off homer on Saturday was the 176th of his career, the most ever by an Asian-born player.

The Mariners followed with three more singles to plate the two winning runs.

"I missed that ball," Odor said. "The sun and the white shirts behind the plate, it was a little hard, but there are no excuses."

Odor was also involved in one of the two pickoffs. The Mariners caught him in the fifth as he took an aggressive lead in an attempt to reach third base.

The Rangers had taken note of Mariners starter Marco Gonzales' slow delivery home, and Odor had stolen second base earlier in the game. He scored the Rangers' only run by taking home on a third inning passed ball.

But his pickoff, technically a caught stealing, thwarted a potential rally that could have padded the Rangers' lead.

Ronald Guzman was also caught off second to end the third, but that was a case of the bigger, slower runner taking too much of a lead.

Banister, though, didn't fault Odor too much for being aggressive. That's who he is, and to see him being aggressive is an indication to the manager that Odor is slowing regaining some of his confidence.

He beat out a bunt to start the third and legged out an infield hit in the fifth.

"We'll encourage him to continue to be an aggressive base runner," Banister said. "You've got to be aware of those types of situations. They know you're looking to steal a base. He made a mistake there.

"As far as Rougie's concerned, I love the energy that he's playing with. I love what he's doing at the plate right now. We're still trying to get him back into him having the confidence he needs to have on the field."

The Rangers had only five singles. They took five walks, but they didn't amount to much.

The Rangers have scored three or fewer runs in seven of their past 10 road games, and have lost six straight when doing so. Their offense continues to bring up the bottom in multiple offensive categories.

Their defense is also the worst in MLB.

No margin for error, especially against quality teams.

"There's always a slim margin for error," Fister said. "In my mind, it's always a 0-0 ballgame, and I've got to go out there and do my job and put up a zero regardless of what the offense is doing or not doing.

"Our boys are working hard. They put a lot of good at-bats together. You can't fault them for putting good at-bats together."

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