Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Going Down Swinging

When this Texas Ranger team officially waves the white towel regarding their now faint playoff hopes, everyone will know the reason. The pitching has always been pretty dreadful in Arlington, but it has become a whole new category of bad this season. Last night's game in Boston proved that no matter how explosive this offense is, it will be for nothing. No matter how many base hits, homeruns, and comebacks this Rangers offense can bring, it will not change the fact that this baseball team is helpless in watching their pitching give up run after run.

The Cowboys weren't playing the Patriots, yet the scoreboard read 19-17 as the Rangers lost yet again last night, despite staging a display of comebacks and explosive offense that we have seen all season long. This loss was like nothing seen before, even from a franchise that has always had the reputation of great offense and questionable pitching. Only one other time have the Rangers come back from being 10 runs down in a game to take the lead. They did that in 2004 against the Tigers. Texas won that game.

Now, The Rangers have fallen eight games behind the Red Sox in the wild-card standings and may have fallen back even more in the mental playoff race. Marlon Byrd put it best after the game when he said, "I just don't know how many times we can do this," who went 5-for-5 and reached on an error in his sixth at-bat. "To be 10 runs down, to come back to take the lead and then to lose, it's just too mentally and physically draining. It gets old."

Before the game, things were looking up. The Rangers offense was out of their mini-slump after putting up 15 runs against the Baltimore Orioles Sunday night. The 4 games before that Texas averaged only 1 run, even getting shutout twice. Texas was now entering a 3-game series against their wild card foe, in a perfect opportunity to gain ground in the playoff hunt. Scott Feldman, one of the few positive players in the rotation, was given the nod to start. Needless to day, Feldman was terrible. He gave up 10 runs in the first inning and 12 in the first three innings. Feldman called his play "embarrassing" after the game, which is how the Rangers pitchers have probably felt all season long. The staff ERA now stands at 5.37, the worst in the AL by more than half a run. The starting rotation ERA is 5.63; since 1900, only 14 teams have finished a season with a higher rotation ERA. It is truly remarkable that the same team that has the best offense in the majors also has the worst pitching. I still can't believe this team has a winning record.

The only positive thing that can be taken from last night's melee was that this Rangers team sure doesn't give up very easily. "I think everybody in the stadium and in Massachusetts thought it was over when they got up 10-0," Ron Washington said. "But one thing I can say about my guys is they never stop fighting. I'm proud of that. We never stopped fighting, but we just couldn't stop them tonight." Scoring 17 runs is pretty impressive in a baseball game, and to do it against the Boston Red Sox on the road makes the feat seem greater. However, all they had to show for it was another loss. The 36 runs scored tied an American League record for most runs in a game. The Rangers are the first AL team in at least 50 years to score 17 runs in a game and lose. Texas did at one point have a 16-15 lead when manager Ron Washington gave the ball to Francisco, his most reliable reliever over the last two months. Francisco gave up 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th to finally seal the Rangers' fate.

Emotions after the game from the team ran from prideful in the way the offense refused to give up to stunned in how the loss played out. Texas is not mathematically out of the wild-card race at all, but chances sure are sure looking slim. The Rangers MUST win these next 2 games against Boston to have any chance at all. We know Texas can put the run support up, but who knows how much the pitching staff will give up. We need a miracle in Texas, and we need it now.


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