Texas Rangers

Rangers hold team meeting in Houston after losing streak hits seven games

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward held a team meeting in the clubhouse after his club was swept by the Houston Astros on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

It was the Rangers’ seventh consecutive loss. But it wasn’t a temper tantrum or scream session.

Woodward, who is in his first year as a manager, wanted to make sure his team stayed together.

“You’re going to deal with failure at times. That team across the way lost seven in a row and they have World Series aspirations and they found a way to get out of it,” Woodward said of the Astros.

Woodward isn’t questioning his team’s heart of preparation. If anything, he said, they’re trying too hard. That can be a recipe for disaster for hitters.

“I know seven in a row sucks. We want to win every game so when you lose seven in a row it hurts,” he said. “It’s a whole week straight of losses. Its not from a lack of trying. We are trying too hard.”

But he also detects some straying from the hitting philosophy he hoped to ingrain into the culture he expects to cultivate in the organization. That includes a pesky offense filled with hitters who drive up pitch counts and treat every pitch as if the season depends on it. That, in some cases, hasn’t always been on display as the offense has scuffled in the second half.

Part of the recent offensive issues, Woodward said, are in part do to the league responding to the Rangers’ offensive success through much of the first half of the season.

“The better team you become, the more of a target is on your back. I want that target to be massive. I want that target to be the biggest in the league. That’s the goal,” he said. “We made a move towards the league right away. And the league noticed that. A lot of smart people around the league are trying to figure everybody out, including us. They know the best way to beat us is to stop our offense.”

Since sweeping the Tigers in Detroit on June 27, Texas is 5-13.

“We have to take that next step, but it’s a big step forward we have to take to counter the good teams who are really doing their homework and solving us,” Woodward said.

Astros starters earn first MLB wins in consecutive games

For the second time since the Rangers moved to Texas in 1972, they lost consecutive games to opposing pitchers who recorded their first major league wins, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Astros Jose Urquidy on Saturday and Rogelio Armenteros on Sunday pulled it off.

The only other pair to do it was the Twins’ Bobby Korecky and Glen Perkins on May 19-20, 2008.

Payano to start Tuesday vs. Mariners

Right-hander Pedro Payano will start for the Rangers on Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners. Woodward would prefer to use an opener in front of Payano but he’ll wait to see the shape the bullpen is in before making that decision. Woodward hopes left-hander Joe Palumbo is available the next time through the rotation. Palumbo was scratched from Monday’s start with tendinitis in his right ankle. Adrian Sampson will start Monday’s game. Payano was called up on July 6 and pitched one scoreless inning before being optioned back to Triple-A Nashville the next day.

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.