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Thoughts on a 6-4 Rangers loss

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A’s 6, Rangers 4

MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A’s 6, Rangers 4

  • That was a lousy trip to the Bay Area.
  • The Rangers are now 3-8. The Rangers are 18.3% of their way through the 2020 season. 11 games into a season isn’t a sample size that should result in materially changing your priors...however, having a lousy record 18.3% of the way into the season puts you in a hole, and the shortened season gives the team a limited amount of time to get out of it. Even with expanded playoffs, if the next half-dozen games go like the last half-dozen games have gone, thoughts of being a playoff contender likely go out the window.
  • Mike Minor, who has been terrific for the Rangers in the first two years of his deal, had his second problematic start in a row. Though his velocity was down compared to last year, he made it through the first three innings fairly well, giving up just a Matt Olson home run. In the fourth, it went single-walk-single-F7-walk-single-sac fly-F8, bringing 4 runs home in the inning and making it a 5-0 game. Minor retired the side in order in the 5th, striking out a pair, but the cow was out of the barn and all that.
  • Jeff Mathis was back behind the plate today — he is now the lone backup catcher, with Jose Trevino being sent down, and I thought Minor’s comfort level with him (Minor’s last start, where he also struggled, was with Robinson Chirinos behind the plate) may have been a factor in Texas keeping Mathis. The Mathis Woo didn’t work today with Minor, though.
  • Minor is, per the beat guys, a create of routine, and there’s some thought that the coronavirus pandemic, and all the changes that players are having to adjust to, is impacting him more than most players. As has been discussed at length, he’s a free agent at the end of the season, and with the trade deadline being August 31, the Rangers will likely look to move him if they are doing poorly and he’s pitching well enough to bring a solid return. The other alternative for Texas is to keep him and make him the qualifying offer after the season — given the uncertainty over the 2020-21 free agent market, it isn’t out of the question he might accept it, and if he doesn’t, the Rangers would get a compensatory 2021 draft pick.
  • The bullpen gave up a run in three innings, due to Joely Rodriguez having issues in his first appearance of the year. Jimmy Herget and Brett Martin each threw a scoreless inning, and Nick Goody got the third out when Rodriguez was pulled with two outs in the seventh.
  • The offense was actually pretty good today, logging more than twice as many hits as the A’s, which makes it even more vexing that Texas only scored four runs. Anderson Tejeda was actually a very positive story from today for the Rangers — the rookie, who had never played above A-ball, made his major league debut, starting at second base, and picked up his first major league hit in his second plate appearance of the day, and his first major league home run in his third plate appearance of the day.
  • Tejeda is only 22, and I wouldn’t think he’s really major league ready, but if Rougned Odor isn’t healthy and no one else is hitting, hey, give him some run.
  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa also had a strong game, going 3 for 4, with all four of his plate appearances resulting in balls in play over 90 mph in exit velocity, and with an expected batting average on each of at least .490. IKF is going to continue to get reps, as the Rangers see what the bat can do.
  • One of Kiner-Falefa’s hits was a one-out triple, and the one out was due to Nick Solak, who had led off the inning with a single, getting picked off first base. Tejeda’s first career single scored IKF, then Tejeda stole second and Jeff Mathis walked, but Shin-Soo Choo grounded out and Elvis Andrus grounded out, so no more runs scored. The inning — and the game — would likely have looked a little different but for the pickoff. But that’s one of those things that happens when you aren’t going well.
  • Todd Frazier homered and singled, and is quietly having a pretty nice season. The Rangers hold a team option for him for 2021, but he is someone who, if the team is floundering in three weeks, could be on the move.
  • Solak had a pair of hits, Choo had a pair of hits, Elvis Andrus had a hit. Willie Calhoun did not have a hit — he went 0 for 5 — and is now 1 for 23 on the season, with no walks. I am confident Willie is going to hit, but it would be a good thing if he could start doing so sooner rather than later.
  • Despite the Rangers being on the wrong side of the score, they had nine of the eleven balls in play that had an EV over 100. Tejeda’s home run, at 108.4, topped the list today, followed by Frazier’s homer and his single, at 108.1 and 106.6, and then a 106.2 Solak single. IKF’s triple was at 104.0, Tejeda’s single was 103.3, Willie and Elvis had GOs at 103.1 and 101.8, respectively, and the final play of the game was a Willie Calhoun line drive double play that was 100.2 off the bat. Oh, and just for good measure, Tejeda had a 99.1 mph EV flyout.
  • Mike Minor was not atop the pitch velocity chart today — he threw a lot of offspeed stuff, had his fastball mostly around 91, and topped out just over 93 mph. Joely Rodriguez had the four hardest thrown pitches for the Rangers, ranging from 94.9 to 95.5, and Jimmy Herget’s sinker topped out at 94.5.
  • Texas returns to Arlington and plays three against the Angels starting tomorrow. Let’s hope they get this turned around against the hated Halos.