Leaving runners on base is one of the more exasperating aspects for a struggling offense. There are chances to score, but too often the timely hit never comes.
Saturday night against the Astros, the Rangers took the LOBs to an MVP level. In this case, that would stand for most vexing play.
Texas tied a club record with 17 runners on base, including 14 through the first six innings, and fell to Houston 4-3 in front of 38,068 at Globe Life Park. The runners left on base in a nine-inning game tied the Rangers' 17 left on June 1, 2007. Texas won that game at Seattle 9-8, despite going 4 for 32 with runners in scoring position. Texas also left 17 on base against the Indians on Aug. 9, 1990.
On Saturday, they combined to go 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position. That included Adrian Beltre's pinch-hit, game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
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Astros' starter Charlie Morton almost begged the Rangers to make him pay for his troubling lack of command that eventually forced manager A.J. Hinch to yank him from the game in the fourth inning.
But before Morton was gone, he walked a career-high six and hit a career-high four batters. He only surrendered one hit, a two-out double by Ronald Guzman in the third.
"When a guy's not throwing strikes it puts you in a situation where you're looking for a pitch to hit," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He's not giving you pitches to hit, but he still has 97 [mph] in the tank, he still has the swing and miss breaking ball, he has the changeup. This is a guy that has been exceptional and he made some pitches in certain situations. It does make it challenging, however, as a hitter you've got to continue to tell yourself you're still hunting your pitch to hit."
The Rangers entered the game just a tick above the league average with 430 runners left on base. The Rangers have had 1,419 runners on base with a batter at the plate, which is also just above the league average by 10 baserunners.
The Rangers, however, are in the bottom third of the league with just 191 of those runners scoring, a rate of 13 percent. That was before Saturday night's struggles, which undoubtedly lowered the percentage.
Saturday's run-scoring problems doomed Mike Minor's best start since May 3. Minor allowed three runs on six hits over six innings, including two runs in the first, but he did not factor in the decision. George Springers' single to left scored Max Stassi in the seventh to push the Astros ahead 4-3.
The Rangers may have been getting on base (nine walks, five hit batters) but they weren't making a lot of contact. The Astros held Texas to five hits, two of which came from Guzman. The five hit batters by Astros pitchers were franchise records for Houston and Texas.