MLB players are resilient. They know they are going to lose at least 60 times a season, win 60 times a season and have their seasons determined by what they do in the remaining 60 games.
Losing, a lot, and failing, a lot, is part of life as a baseball player. The Texas Rangers will be back at Globe Life Park on Wednesday with another chance to win a ballgame after another disappointing loss.
“It’s not that hard, actually,” left-hander Mike Minor said. “We do it all the time.”
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But one thing is becoming clear in the Rangers’ clubhouse, the possibility of losing 100 games.
Nights like the one they had Tuesday aren’t going to help.
Their loss to the Oakland Athletics capped a pretty bad day all around for the Rangers, who demoted Delino DeShields to the minor leagues. That wasn’t a popular move, though life will move on Wednesday.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 13-10 loss in 10 innings.
1. Of the 1,502 hits of Elvis Andrus’ career, only one of them has been a grand slam — No. 1,502.
The shortstop hit the first grand slam of his career during a six-run sixth inning to give the Rangers an eight-run lead.
What could possibly go wrong?
Oh, just about everything.
“No , you don’t just chalk that one up,” manager Jeff Banister said.
The A’s rallied for three runs in the seventh, four in the eighth, one in the ninth to tie it and three in the 10th to win it. The Rangers, meanwhile, didn’t have another hit after Andrus’ slam.
Oakland forged the tie against Brandon Mann, called up earlier in the day, and the Rangers’ three best relievers — Jose Leclerc, Jake Diekman and Keone Kela. Poor old Austin Bibens-Dirkx surrendered a three-run homer to Khris Davis in the 10th.
The bullpen was in such bad shape that Kela was asked to pitch in the eighth for the first time this season. The result was his first blown save of the year after opening with 23 straight successful conversions.
The A’s had plenty of help. Mann walked two and Diekman walked three and hit a batter. I’m guessing contenders won’t be blowing up Jon Daniels’ phone to talk about trading for Diekman.
“I feel terrible when I pitch at home,” he said. “Just keep pitching and figure it out.”
Andrus also didn’t help, booting what should have been an inning-ending double play behind Diekman. Instead, the A’s scored three more runs.
Also wasted in the disaster were homers by Willie Calhoun and Joey Gallo and what should have been enough from Minor (two runs in five innings). Minor, though, said his inability to pitch deeper in the game put the Rangers’ bullpen into the game too early.
That’s 100 percent right, but Shin-Soo Choo said it best.
“You can’t lose games when you lead by eight runs,” he said.
2. Carlos Tocci appears to have avoided an injury that could have sent him to the disabled list after getting plunked in the fifth inning. X-rays that were taken almost immediately were negative, and he stayed in the game. He had the first multi-hit game of his career.
But what if a second set of X-rays were to show some damage? The Rangers would have three options, including simply telling DeShields, sent out earlier in the day, to turn around and come back.
Players who have been optioned can avoid the minimum 10-day stay if needed as an injury replacement.
But Banister really tried to make a hard sell on the need for DeShields to go to the minors and work things out. That’s how it was sold to DeShields, who disagreed with that assessment.
The Rangers have two more to choose from at Triple A Round Rock, though one is dealing with a shoulder injury. Scott Heineman isn’t on the disabled list, but it could keep him from a his MLB debut for now.
Drew Robinson, for those who haven’t been paying attention, is tearing it up for Round Rock. He entered Tuesday with a .329/.395/.598 slash line and was batting .405 over his previous 10 games.
The Rangers know he can play center field, and they know he relies heavily on rhythm and needs regular at-bats. If Tocci needs DL time and if the Rangers hold to their word on DeShields, this could be Robinson’s chance.
3. The Heart and Hustle Award typically goes to established players.
They might not have 10 years of service time, but they aren’t rookies.
So, consider it significant that Isiah Kiner-Falefa was the Texas Rangers recipient of the award this year, an announcement that was made Tuesday morning by the MLB Players Alumni Association.
Per the press release, “this esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
“The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, comprised of Alumni players with established relationships to each team. One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.”
Kiner-Falefa said he was humbled to be selected, and he gave credit to everyone except himself — his high school coaches in Hawaii and all the coaches in the Rangers’ system.
Of all the stories that have emerged this season, his is near the top of the list. As the Rangers have sought to learn more about their young players this season, I’m not sure they were expecting to see Kiner-Falefa so soon and to see him succeed this much.
He is deserving. He plays wherever he’s told, does so very well and is an exciting player on the bases.
There’s your heart and hustle.