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Thoughts on a 7-2 Rangers loss

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Astros 7, Rangers 2

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Astros 7, Rangers 2

  • Well, I guess getting rid of Sam Dyson didn’t solve all the Rangers’ problems.
  • A gross disaster of a game that ended a lousy series that pretty much wiped out the Rangers’ already slim hopes of making noise in the A.L. West race, a game that included lousy pitching and not much hitting and even some rain at the end, as if nature believed that if you sat through this ugliness as a Rangers fan then you must be a masochist who would also want the elements to punish you.
  • Martin Perez had one of those games he has from time to time, that he had largely avoided up to this point this season. George Springer led off the game getting up 3-0, Perez came back to run the count full, allowed a foul ball on 3-2, and then had Springer crush a ball down in the zone over the left field wall for a home run.
  • That was followed up by a couple of hard hit outs, and then a fly ball to deep center field that Jared Hoying got a bead on, put his glove up to catch...and then dropped. It wasn’t a particularly difficult catch...it just seemed to pop out of his glove. And of course that meant instead of getting out of the inning there was a runner on second and two outs, and a Carlos Beltran blast off the left field wall brought that runner home, and so we had a 2-0 deficit for Texas before the home team even came to the plate.
  • Springer singled home a run in the second, Carlos Correa homered in the third and then Yulieski Gurriel sac flied a runner home, and then Springer homered again in the fourth, and Perez ended up getting pulled with 2 outs in the fourth and 6 runs home.
  • Just to put things in perspective, Martin Perez was knocked out of the game before Texas even got a hit.
  • Tony Barnette, who has struggled this year, pitched two innings, gave up a home run to Gurriel and two walks (including one to the final batter he faced, when he was tiring), but overall looked better. We kind of overlooked for much of last season how good Tony Barnette was, and so far this season we have kind of overlooked how not good Barnette has been. Getting Barnette back on track would help make this a more tolerable final four months.
  • Nick Martinez, originally slated to start on Tuesday, got drafted as the mop-up long man today, and allowed just one hit in 3.1 IP, with 2 Ks. Whether Martinez was pitching well or the Astros batters were just tired from a weekend of beating up on Rangers pitchers, I don’t know, but the line is respectable, at least.
  • Martinez pitching means we likely have another Austin Bibens-Dirkx start on Tuesday, although Dillon Gee could get the nod instead.
  • The bats did very little today. Rougned Odor, mired in an awful slump, hit a home run, so we can hope that is a sign that he’s going to snap out of his funk. Otherwise, there were only two Rangers who got on base more than once today — Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo. Coincidentally, they have also been the Rangers’ two best hitters this season.
  • Texas is now 15 games back of the Astros in the A.L. West, and its kind of pointless to talk about getting back in the division race. The Rangers are in striking distance of a Wild Card spot, though that has a lot to do with there being a clump of teams around .500. And because there are a lot of teams around .500 right now, the Rangers are fighting with about 8 other squads for a Wild Card berth, which means not only does Texas have to start playing better, they also have to jump over quite a few teams.
  • Bottom line being, this team could — and likely will — be at least on the fringes of the Wild Card race into July, but it will also be something of a longshot to make the postseason, even if it stays in the Wild Card hunt. And what the front office may be faced with is a situation in mid-July where the Rangers have gotten Carlos Gomez back, have gotten Cole Hamels back, are somewhere around .500, are among a half-dozen teams vying for a playoff spot, and having to decide whether to buy, sell or hold.
  • My guess is that if the Rangers are in the fringe of the Wild Card race come mid- to late-July, they are sellers. This team has some good young players and some good old players but not many who are in their prime. It is a team with a lot of guys who are free agents at the end of the season, a team that is going to look a lot different come 2018 no matter how this season shakes out, and a team that doesn’t have a bunch of guys in AAA knocking at the door.
  • So if the Rangers are 3 games back of the second Wild Card spot with a couple of teams between them and the team they are chasing come late July, I think we’ll see something similar to the “white flag trade” the Chicago White Sox made when they were 3.5 games out on July 31, 1997. I think in that scenario Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross get shopped for whatever they can bring, the Rangers look to offload Mike Napoli to anyone who will pay some of his contract, Jonathan Lucroy gets dealt if a team in contention needs a catcher, and anyone in the bullpen who would bring a hefty return gets put on the block. I think Yu Darvish is offered a choice between signing an extension or getting dealt to a contender, and I think that Adrian Beltre’s future here depends on whether he asks to be traded (Beltre has 10/5 rights, so he isn’t going anywhere unless he wants to, and I don’t think the Rangers would trade him anyway unless he asks the club to move him).
  • Texas has a good core of position players in place to build around. Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus...all four are young building blocks. Beltre and Choo are here. Ronald Guzman could be ready next year. Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields and Drew Robinson don’t profile as starters, but could be useful role players. Texas needs a center fielder and they need starting piching, and if they go into sell mode, that’s what you’d expect they’d look to target in trade talks.
  • Anyway, we have an off day tomorrow to wallow in misery, and then another on Thursday. Hopefully things can get turned around a little this week.