- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Only a week ago the Texas Rangers were the owners of a .500 record, a significant early accomplishment for a baseball team many predicted would not reach 70 victories this season.
A week later the Rangers are reeling, the losers of six straight after a winless road trip and with a seven-game homestand ahead against the New York Yankees and Houston Astros.
The Astros just made the Rangers miserable over the weekend and on Sunday completed a four-game sweep at Minute Maid Park with a 6-2 victory. Throw in two losses to the San Francisco Giants, and it was the Rangers’ first 0-6 road trip since 1991.
If the road trip and homestand against contending teams are serving a measuring stick, the Rangers so far have come up short. Not necessarily woefully short, but short enough to remind them there is still work to do before the Rangers can contend.
“This is something that I want our guys to take head on, take the challenge head on, embrace it, and that’s the only way we got to bust through it,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We can’t run away from it. We can’t hide from it.”
The Rangers lost two times by one run on the road trip and two times by two. They went to the eighth inning Sunday in a 2-2 tie before the Astros scored four times against Joely Rodriguez, who hadn’t allowed a run in 10 appearances.
They did it with five singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly. Four of the hits and the sacrifice fly came with two strikes. The Astros went 4-for-8 in the game with runners in scoring position.
Kyle Gibson allowed two runs in seven innings for his eighth straight quality start. David Dahl connected for a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh, but the offense was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Two of the misses came in the sixth after Nick Solak opened with a double and went to third on a wild pitch with no outs, but the heart of the order couldn’t capitalize. No. 3 hitter Nate Lowe struck out, Joey Gallo popped out and Adolis Garcia flied to center.
When the Rangers look back at the loss, and others on the trip, they can look at what the Astros did in big spots and learn from it.
“A couple plays here and there and a couple pitches here and there, and this road trip is a lot different,” Gibson said. “We’ve got to realize that and we’ve got to understand that when you’re in a game and you’re competing and you’re not getting blown out, it’s just little small adjustments that can turn a loss into a win.”
Woodward said he addressed the team after the loss. The players were frustrated, and that’s good. Woodward believes the frustration can turn into motivation to get things back on track.
Gibson, one of the team’s veteran leaders, said that it’s still early in the season and too soon to start worrying about one stretch dooming the season. Coming back to Globe Life Field might be all the Rangers need to set their minds right.
Maybe. But the upcoming schedule would seem to lend itself to a stretch that could spoil the positive things that happened over the first 40 games.
“You just show up and you understand your goals for the day and you understand the process that you’re going through, and you make sure you stay focused on that,” Gibson said.
“The No. 1 thing we can do is have the pitching staff go out there and keep throwing strikes and keep attacking, give our defense a chance to make some plays behind us, and as an offense take advantage of opportunities that we’re given, try to get a lead and build on it.”