What a strange situation. The Rangers are celebrating their first playoff spot in six years this weekend but they completely faltered with every chance to win the division and earn a bye. After failing to score at all today, Texas will head to Tampa Bay and might not even make it back home for their first playoff game at The Shed unless they win that series.
Honestly, George Kirby was a difficult matchup for Texas today regardless. He’s a playoff caliber starter who pitched today like it were a playoff game. His game of relentlessly peppering the strike zone with good stuff is exactly how you beat a Rangers lineup that loves to wear starters down and wait for their mistake pitch.
It was even a bit of a mercy that the Mariners removed Kirby after just 75 pitches. Still, Texas couldn’t muster anything against Seattle’s bullpen as they haven’t been able to do against any team’s bullpen all season.
And without the West, that’s kind of what we’re left with. This weird feeling of accomplishing something but not exactly what we hoped for after an endless array of opportunities. The Rangers made the playoffs and that’s really neat and should be celebrated and we should be happy about it, especially after the long run of failure that preceded this season, but we also watched these 162 games and know now what Texas left on the table.
At least the Rangers still have more of those opportunities coming but it will take coming up bigger than they did today for it to not end swiftly to cement this season as a disappointment.
Player of the Game: While Kirby was dealing, the Rangers were, of course, shorthanded in the rotation. Texas turned to Dane Dunning on short rest and limited ammo and he delivered with only a, let’s face it, umpired-aided run crossing the plate as the game’s only run that marred his ledger.
Meanwhile, Martin Perez followed Dunning and really did all he could to give Texas a chance as he threw 3 2⁄3 of spotless relief with four strikeouts. In a better universe than our own, it would have been good enough for a gutsy victory.
Up Next: Playoff baseball in the Battle of Jon Daniels as the Rangers will open their postseason in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Which, hey, fun seasons have seen October start that way before.