The Texas Rangers have endured 100-loss seasons and decades-long playoff droughts since coming to town in 1972.
There’s been some bad baseball. But there’s only been one game in the franchise’s history on level of what happened Tuesday night.
The Rangers blew a 10-2 lead against the Oakland Athletics. Losing after leading by eight-plus runs had only happened once before — May 16, 2006 when the Rangers blew a nine-run lead at the New York Yankees.
“You can’t lose games when you lead by eight runs,” Shin-Soo Choo said afterward.
You shouldn’t lose games when you lead by four runs, either, which is what happened Wednesday in a 6-5 loss to the A’s.
The Rangers were leading 5-1 after six innings, thanks to a solid start by Martin Perez, but A’s slugger Khris Davis haunted them once again. Davis had a three-run shot in the seventh off Cory Gearrin, and then delivered a game-deciding two-run homer in the ninth off Jose Leclerc.
“I tried to throw a fastball away for a ball, but still [caught] a little bit in the plate,” Leclerc said.
It capped another day at the ballpark that had promise early on only to end in disappointment.
But manager Jeff Banister made it clear before the game he wasn’t concerned about his team losing its intensity or focus in what’s turning into one of the more forgettable seasons in recent years.
“It’s a legitimate question. I respect the question,” Banister said. “How do you evaluate that? Are we going to evaluate that on a win? Are you going to evaluate that on the effort? Just remember in a loss — the thing that gets lost — losses don’t ever, because they’re emotional, they don’t ever look good. You never just go, ‘That was a really good looking loss.’ I’ve never seen that headline.
“So I look at it — our approach, staying focused on our approach. Are we still running the bases hard? Are we attentive on defense? Off the mound, are we continuing to compete?
“Part of this goes back to what are we developing here? What are we focusing in on? Previous years, we were in a position to chase and play for divisional titles and get into the playoffs. Obviously that’s an extreme challenge if you will at this point. However we’ve got some young guys across the board who are going through the process of learning to play at the major league level — what it feels like, what they need to pay attention to.
“With that, what does it feel like and what are we doing right to win a baseball game? When we don’t win a baseball game, what can we learn from in a loss? That is, if you will, the education process at the major league level.”
Unfortunately for the Rangers’ youth movement, they have been going through the process of learning from losses more than what it takes to win.
This is a team that ranked among the worst in ERA (4.88) and batting average (.238) going into Wednesday and, as we saw Tuesday, an eight-run lead doesn’t even ensure a victory. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a four-run lead wouldn’t get it done Wednesday.
But the players insist the energy level is still high and the manager isn’t worried about his squad mailing it in.
“You have to turn the page, man,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said before the game. “The last thing you want to do is start thinking about what happened — why we didn’t win yesterday’s game. They have a good team. They’re playing really well right now and didn’t give up until the last pitch. … We’ve still got two more months ahead of us and it’s all about to keep getting better.”
Said Banister: “The thing that I like most of all when I watch our guys is the emotion is still there. When you’re emotional about an outcome, when you’re emotional about a play, that desire is still there. I don’t expect that desire will ever wane to the point that it’s concerning.”