Did Odor’s miscue cost Rangers against Angels?
Mike Trout is the best baseball player on the planet no matter which team he is playing against each night.
Against the Texas Rangers, though, he is somehow even better.
The Los Angeles Angels center fielder connected for two home runs Wednesday night, giving him 24 this season. Eight of those — that’s one-third for the mathematically challenged — are against the Rangers in only 12 games.
Trout isn’t the only opposing hitter finding his power stroke against Rangers pitchers. They have allowed a home run in 18 consecutive games.
That’s not ideal, even if the ball is jumping more this season than at anytime since the Steroid Era.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 6-2 loss.
A key miss
The game was scoreless with one out in the top of the third inning, though the Angels were threatening with runners on the corners.
Leadoff man Kole Calhoun was up, and he sent a line drive toward second base. He was so sure it would be caught that he didn’t run to first base initially.
Rougned Odor was so sure he would catch the ball and turn a double play -- Dustin Garneau had strayed to far from first base -- that he laughed in disbelief after the ball clipped the top of his glove and went into right field for an RBI single.
Trout hit the first of his two home runs, a three-run shot, two pitches later.
The Rangers never recovered.
Manager Chris Woodward, a former infielder, said that the play wasn’t as easy as it looked. The ball was hit hard. Right-hander Ariel Jurado didn’t make a good pitch to Calhoun.
“If Roogie catches that, we’ve got a double play,” Woodward said. “The next guy that comes up is the best player in baseball.”
Jurado said that the error non-error didn’t affect him, but he seemed stunned that just one out wasn’t made. He was then put put on tilt when the first pitch to Trout was called a ball even though it look liked a strike.
Catcher Tim Federowicz went to the mound to calm Jurado down.
Trout knocked the next pitch into the Rangers’ bullpen in right-center field.
“I thought I made a good pitch,” Jurado said.
Odor improved his defense dramatically last season and has been steady this season. His hitting has improved of late, with his average all the way up to .186. He looked like a .186 hitter Wednesday as he struck out four times.
But his miscue at second base was the biggest issue. It shaped the game.
As the rotation goes ...
Baseball is pretty simple. If a team receives quality starting pitching, it has a very good chance to win a ballgame.
If not, well ... .
Rangers starting pitchers haven’t been great since Saturday, and that has resulted in a four-game losing streak. None of the four have been awful, but they have been just off enough to breathe some life into opposing bats.
Jurado was the latest to not be at his best, though Trout was a big reason for that.
The Angels scored six times against Jurado, who struck out seven and walked only one. There was some good in there, just not enough.
“I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well,” Woodward said.
That sounds like Adrian Sampson on Saturday, Jesse Chavez on Sunday and Mike Minor on Tuesday.
Woodward said the offense needs to be better. Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Willie Calhoun sat at their lockers discussing how the offense can get back into the approach that served them so well the first three months of the season.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Angels, meanwhile, received quality starting pitching to silence one of the game’s best offenses.
Judging by the way Matt Bush was pitching for Double A Frisco, it was only a matter of time until the Rangers called him. If not for his latest elbow injury, he might have been up Wednesday.
Instead, he’s headed to an operating table in the near future to undergo Tommy John surgery. Relievers typically don’t need 15 months to recover from the elbow ligament replacement, so he could pitch again late next season.
As general manager Jon Daniels was delivering the injury news, a media member not-so-quietly muttered a curse word.
“That was all of our reactions,” Daniels said.
Make no mistake: This is a big blow to the Rangers. Their bullpen is reliably unreliable, and they were counting on Bush to help give them a little depth in the late innings.
Now that he’s no longer an option, the best option is to go outside the organization.
The Rangers, despite their current slide, have earned help by flirting with the second wild card. Daniels knows it and has said as much.
Of course, the Rangers have one more game against the Angels and then seven straight against two of the three best teams in the American League. It’s a critical stretch, one that the Rangers must survive to convince Daniels to go get the help.
Some better starting pitching sure would help, too.