Texas Rangers

Rangers haven’t looked like a .500 team of late, but that’s what they were entering Friday

The short night for Taylor Hearn on Thursday put the Texas Rangers on a fast track to their fourth straight loss.

They’ve lost four in a row twice this season, with both skids coming on the road.

Hmmm, there appears to be a trend developing.

The Rangers were hoping to shake out of their West Coast funk Friday and climb back above .500, where they had been for nine straight games.

But they didn’t get to 12-12 by mistake. There have been as many ups and downs and plenty of performances in between.

Here’s a look at how the Rangers got to .500 after 24 games.

The good

1. Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus have not disappointed offensively, with both hitting above .300 and doing damage along the way. They are doing so after stumbling to the finish line last season.

The offense goes as Choo goes, but unlike much of the rest of the offense, he doesn’t stop hitting on the road. Andrus is playing with some discomfort in his hand, but he’s still proving to be a tough out.

They will cool off some, but they will be expected to guide the lineup all season.

2. Joey Gallo is currently on the downhill ride on his roller-coaster ride, but he continues to be more of a consistent threat at the plate than at any other time previously in his career.

The reigning American League Player of the Week entered Friday batting .273 despite going hitless in his past seven at-bats with six strikeouts. He continues to pace the Rangers in homers, RBIs and OPS, and only Choo has a better on-base percentage.

3. Mike Minor is showing that the Rangers should give him a contract extension rather than attempt to trade him at the July deadline. The left-hander has a shutout on his early resume and has been the Rangers’ clear-cut No. 1 starter.

He’s not a No. 1 along the lines of, say, Justin Verlander, but he’s closer to that than he is a middle- or back-of-the-rotation starter. The Rangers have found themselves a reliable pitcher to keep.

The not good

1. The pitching staff is just a mess, and the problems trace to the rotation.

The rotation has lost two starters, one probably for the season and another for a start or two, but there were problems even when all five were healthy.

It’s not just that there are injuries, but that the rotation depth is being exposed for the problem it was before the season.

The sudden retirement of Jason Hammel at the end of spring training didn’t help but isn’t the cause of what’s happening now. The broken jaw of Luke Farrell in early March was a blow, as was an elbow injury to Yohander Mendez. The front office failing to address any of those departures has caught up to the club on the field.

2. The bullpen hasn’t been a strength either, though Shawn Kelley has been very good and appears to be positioning himself for a trade to a contender at the deadline. The relievers are so overworked of late that the Rangers will have to start rotating more in from the minors.

Closer Jose Leclerc was so good to start the season but has been on the verge of losing his job since. That’s not good, but the Rangers are still committed to him as they believe he is their best reliever.

It’s not pretty right now.

3. The Rangers’ road woes have continued from the past few seasons. They are winless in four games on this road trip, with three remaining, and went 2-4 on the first of the season.

The struggling isn’t limited to one facet. The pitching, the hitting and even the defense have suffered away from Globe Life Park. The 12-4 loss Thursday in which, as the score indicates, nothing went right was rock bottom.

The Rangers better hope it was.

The .500

1. Lance Lynn has shown an ability to carry a heavy workload and keep the Rangers in games, and they are 3-2 when he starts.

But two dicey outings (15 earned runs in nine innings) book end three nice starts (five runs in 18 2/3 innings). So, for the most part he has been good and is the Rangers’ undisputed second-best starter, but he could be pitching better.

2. Asdrubal Cabrera has the difficult assignment of being the man who replaced Adrian Beltre, and he even is dealing with a calf issue as Beltre often did. Cabrera has been good, half the time.

Almost all of his production has come at home, where he has all six of his home runs and 16 of his 17 RBIs. He has fallen into the same trap as the rest of the Rangers’ offense on the road.

3. The Rangers have had to rely on their bench players quite a bit this season because of injuries to first baseman Ronald Guzman and second baseman Rougned Odor, and Logan Forsythe and Danny Santana have been adequate replacements.

Hunter Pence has found a way to stay sharp off the bench.

But the Rangers play in the American League, where bench players can disappear when all regulars are healthy. The Rangers traditionally haven’t put much value in their bench. There’s no doubting, though, that the bench this season has been better than in the recent past.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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