How the tables have turned. On Aug. 15, the Texas Rangers were riding high, 24 games over .500, and in cruise control to the playoffs, if not an American League West title. Aug. 15 now happens to be the last time Bruce Bochy’s team has won. The Rangers are on a seven-game losing streak, including another blown lead against Minnesota last night. Things don’t get easier for Texas, with three more games against the Twins and a trio at the Mets to round out the month of August have to play out before a return to Arlington.
Things look so different for the Rangers than they did a week ago. Slides happen, droughts happen, even this time of year for previous teams to make a World Series. This one has been demoralizing, during a time of the year when the Rangers should be cementing their playoff positioning, not pissing it away. So that begs the question, what changed? And that’s the most frustrating thing. Not much is the answer. Just missed opportunities and not finishing games. And it’s happened over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. I checked that I used the word over seven times. That’s how you finish Texas.
The Rangers are 2-8 over their last 10 games. In that stretch, the team is hitting just .237, while the pitching staff has put together a 4.33 ERA.
Will Smith has struggled in the closer’s role of late. Over 9.1 IP the past month, he’s posted a 10.61 ERA, and melted down in back-to-back days on Aug. 20 ( 0.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER) and 21 (0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER).
The Rangers’ roller coaster of a season has placed them 17 games over .500, which is still a privileged place to be, but with the number of opportunities lost, they could be the dominant team in the American League now that the Rays have slightly faded. And Texas has two teams breathing down its neck, with Houston and Seattle each one game out, which places the Rangers also with a slim two-game advantage in an extended Wild Card race.
That margin for error is obviously way too close for comfort, and Texas fans can pump out their chests all the way saying they have the most complete roster in the American League that can get the team out of this mess. While that’s true, it’s also this roster that put you in a bind to begin with. There’s no picking and choosing. It’s either a World Series-caliber team or whole donkey droppings. It’s the Jekyll and Hyde show, when being either is more preferable this time of year than flip-flopping. All this meandering for a team with only 55 losses this far into the season? The controlled complaining is because the Rangers are good enough to have that number be 45. And then they’d be sitting pretty and I’d be writing about something else.
How does this all end for the Rangers? I have a hard time believing a roster of this stature can’t figure it out, or that dumb luck doesn’t go their way this time to get into the postseason. This team being in a one-game playoff was an absolute foreign thought 10 days ago. Now, I believe most DFW baseball fans would take that with last week’s struggles. This team with nine innings to decide its season is a complete roll of the dice. And during a manageable August, Texas suffered these self-inflicted wounds. Time for damage control.