Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: Were Rangers trying to save Choo’s streak by not using him to hit late?

Shin-Soo Choo is 2 for 26 in his career against Chris Sale, but would have been in the lineup Wednesday had he been able to play the outfield. Sale was gone, though, in the eighth and ninth when Choo could have been used to pinch hit.
Shin-Soo Choo is 2 for 26 in his career against Chris Sale, but would have been in the lineup Wednesday had he been able to play the outfield. Sale was gone, though, in the eighth and ninth when Choo could have been used to pinch hit. AP

The time has come to publicly air a grievance that burdens those travelers who rely on hotel gyms to offset all the poor eating and other extra calories that might be consumed during and after work on the road.

For the love of God, clean up after yourselves.

It’s just common courtesy to clean up, and it takes, oh, 30 seconds. People wouldn’t leave their houses in that condition, but apparently they think someone else will tidy things up at a hotel gym after they leave.

Unacceptable.

Also unacceptable, though not unexpected: The Texas Rangers’ showing against the Boston Red Sox.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-2 loss that completed a three-game sweep.

1. Shin-Soo Choo sat for the second time in three games as Adrian Beltre started at designated hitter for the second time in three games.

Both instances came against left-handed starters who could have made it challenging for the lefty-hitting Choo to extend his MLB-leading 48-game on-base streak, especially Wednesday starter Chris Sale.

Was manager Jeff Banister trying to preserve the streak? He wouldn’t let that line of questioning get of the ground in his pregame chat/World Cup watch party with the media.

“When Choo’s locked in swinging, which he has been, and all things being equal, I’ve never held him out of this consistent left-on-left situation at all,” Banister said. “It has everything to do with Adrian is DH-ing and Choo’s not.”

Choo is unable to play the outfield as he deals with a quadriceps strain, so when Beltre’s 39-year-old legs need some rest at DH, Choo sits. If Beltre had been able to play third base, Choo would have been the DH.

OK. Makes a lot of sense. Choo was only 2 for 26 against Sale. If one of them had to sit, it wasn’t going to be the right-handed-hitting Beltre.

But the game suddenly got tight in the eighth inning, as the Rangers cut a 4-0 deficit in half. The bases were loaded with two outs for Joey Gallo, who struck out for the fourth time to end the threat. The Rangers are going to let Gallo hit there.

Choo, meanwhile, was stationed on the bench. He didn’t have a bat in his hands or a helmet on his head. Had Gallo reached, Ryan Rua was on deck to face Craig Kimbrel — one of the nastiest closers in MLB history — in a right-vs.-right matchup.

And when Kimbrel came back for the ninth with the difference still only two runs, Choo was still on the bench.

Rua struck out, and the streak lives on.

It appeared something fishy was going on.

Banister, though, said that Choo was going to hit for Rua in the eighth, streak be damned. Choo said no one had told him that, but also said that he had taken swings in the cage in the fifth and sixth innings.

He didn’t have his batting gloves, leg shield, elbow shield, forearm shield or helmet on, but he said he could have quickly put them on and grabbed a bat and hit for Rua.

“I don’t typically put the pinch hitter out on deck in that situation unless we’re definitely going to pull the trigger,” Banister said.

But Banister wasn’t going to use Choo to start the ninth, as he wanted to use Choo as the tying run.

“He and I have talked about that. We’re in this to win baseball games,” Banister said. “So, he was available and needed to hit if we needed him in those situations.”

Choo said that he doesn’t believe that Banister was trying to preserve his streak against the Red Sox. Choo said that his quad is improving but not to the point where he can play the outfield.

That’s not going to happen until after the All-Star break.

So, things aren’t always as they appear. But things sure appeared to be fishy in the eighth and ninth innings.

“I know a lot of people think that way,” Choo said. “But my quad’s not 100 percent. If I could play the field, I could go say, ‘Put me out there.’ But I have only one option — DH.”

2. Elvis Andrus was given a first-inning double on a ball that Mitch Moreland would say he should have had. The official scored seemed to think so, too, before declaring “two-base hit” instead of “error first base.”

Andrus won’t complain, and Moreland probably won’t either. The hit was the start of a good Wednesday.

“I needed that one, for sure,” Andrus said.

But, first, a look at the not-so-good

Andrus is still searching after coming off the disabled list just more than three weeks ago. He has hit safely in 12 of the past 14 games, but he’s batting .258 (17 for 66) during that stretch and is batting only .218 (19 for 87) in 19 games since being activated following a 59-game absence for a broken right arm.

He is batting .222 (6 for 27) so far on the road trip.

The cause for his woes is the same as it was when asked two weeks ago — his timing remains off. He has jumped back into the best baseball league in the world with pitchers performing at their peak.

There wasn’t a second spring training for him to slowly find a rhythm against pitchers who were trying to find theirs.

So, he has to keep working four or five at-bats a game until something clicks. Baseball people call that “grinding.”

“It’s just part of the process that he’s going to have to continue to battle through,” manager Jeff Banister said.

Wednesday’s game was Andrus’ best. He just missed a home run in his second at-bat, hooking a slider foul, and he lined a double to left in his third. To do it against Sale is no small feat.

He also reached on a broken bat chopper in the eighth for a three-hit game that raised his average from .246 to .259.

Maybe Andrus’ battle is almost won.

“I’ve never been in this situation before in my career,” Andrus said. “It’s challenged me a lot. I feel like I’m making better adjustments every day, so it’s just about staying there and keep working hard knowing that my swing will come back.”

3. Bartolo Colon’s pursuit of pitching history will extend into the second half of the season.

The right-hander pitched reasonably well against a Red Sox team that manhandles just about every pitcher, allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings.

But it wasn’t good enough for career win No. 246, which would have moved him past Dennis Martinez for the most career wins by a pitcher from Latin America.

Barring a relief appearance this weekend at Baltimore, Colon will finish the first half still seeking that win but with 106 2/3 innings and a 4.64 ERA. Who saw that coming before the season?

He’s going to get that record, and the sooner the better so that that storyline can be put to bed and another involving “Big Sexy” can begin.

The most likely one to develop once the record falls is if he will finally retire. How about this one: Would the Rangers, who have only one pitcher under contract for 2019, consider re-signing Colon?

Stranger things have happened, like a 45-year-old 285-pounder still pitching effectively in the major leagues.

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