Monday newsletter time: Bullpen folds again in another tough loss for Rangers
(AP photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Just when you think the Rangers’ bullpen couldn’t possibly find a new way to cost the team a win, the relievers ask you to hold their beers.
Aroldis Chapman blew a save in the ninth inning for the second time on the road trip, this time for being unaware of a new time-management rule, and Jonathan Hernandez walked three straight batters with two outs in the 13th inning to force in the deciding run in a 7-6 loss at Minnesota.
That came an inning after Brock Burke couldn’t hold a 6-5 lead, though with the free runner at second base, he didn’t do a bad job.
The loss, coupled with a Mariners win, knocked the Rangers out of first place for the first time since April 8. They are tied with the Astros for one of the final two wild-card spots.
The Rangers have lost 9 of 10 games but have 33 to go to change their current course.
They entered the sixth inning with a 5-0 lead thanks to J.P. Martinez’s first career homer and Jonah Heim’s second career grand slam. Left-hander Jordan Montgomery, though, loaded the bases with one out, and reliever Chris Stratton surrendered a grand slam on his second pitch.
Stratton, Jose Leclerc and Will Smith managed to get the Rangers to the ninth with the lead. Chapman struck out Matt Wallner to start the inning but walked Michael Taylor.
Heim called time during the next at-bat, which counts against the pitcher as a disengagement. In the pitch-clock era, a pitcher gets two of those. A third results in a balk.
Chapman tried a pickoff throw at first, threw a couple pitches to Donovan Solano, than picked to first again.
The umpires called a balk, Taylor moved into scoring position, and Solano followed with an RBI single.
Neither team scored in the 10th or the 11th, and Corey Seager put the Rangers ahead in the 12th with an RBI single. Burke was the choice for the 12th, and he walked Solano to start the inning and uncorked a wild pitch to put runners at second and third.
Ezequiel Duran made a diving stop on a Jorge Polanco grounder to third, but the tying run scored.
Hernandez, called up Saturday after three months at Triple A Round Rock, struck out the first two batters and looked to be cruising to the 14th. But he walked Joey Gallo and then walked Wellner to load the bases.
Hernandez threw four pitches to Taylor, each worse than the previous one, and that was that.
The Rangers had chances to win the game before Hernandez even started warming up, but the offense went cold before manager Bruce Bochy had used up the his best relief options.
While Will Smith recorded a big out in the eighth and Josh Sborz was really good in the 10th and 11th, the bullpen continues to be the weakest link.
It has cost the Rangers three of their five losses on this road trip. It might cost them their first postseason trip since 2016.
The Rangers packed up after the loss and headed to New York for a three-game series against the Mets, who a month ago traded Max Scherzer to the Rangers.
Scherzer will not face his former team. Jon Gray is scheduled to start tonight in the opener and be followed by Andrew Heaney and Dane Dunning.
The Rangers need Gray to go deep in the game after the bullpen’s busy Sunday. Hernandez could be optioned to Rock Rock for a fresh arm, especially with Heaney’s recent track record of not going deep in games.
The Mets are in last place in the National League East at 60-71 and barely avoided a three-game weekend sweep to the Angels.
Rangers on the Grid
Not only was it Do It For Durrett Day on Friday, it was also another day with the Rangers on Immaculate Grid.
The rule, as always, is to find the most obscure Rangers connections to the teams they are teamed with on the grid. On Friday, it was the Brewers, the Nationals and the Cubs. My picks are pictured.
The highlight was Cristian Guzman. Why? Jon Daniels is on the board of Do It For Durrett, was at the event and orchestrated the ill-fated 2010 trade for Guzman.
It might be the worse the of his tenure, though he has mentioned the Adrian Gonzalez (and Chris Young and Termel Sledge) trade in 2006 with the Padres for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Billy Killian.
I felt is was my obligation as a fellow board member to share Guzman with him.
Daniels, by the way, says he plays the Grid every day. He’s probably good at it, too.
Claudio is an all-time good guy, and he has a son who frequently plays against my son in baseball tournaments. Byrd was busted twice for performance-enhancing drugs after his big 2009 season with the Rangers.
He admitted that season to taking supplements under the direction of Victor Conte, who created the performance-enhancing drugs used by Barry Bonds, among others.
Conte had to come out and say that he was not involved with the drug that caused Byrd’s first positive test.
The Do It For Durrett Doubleheader event raised more than $150,000 for area families affected by sudden loss. Within 24 hours, DIFD agreed to give $10,000 to support a family who just lost a parent. If you missed out on Friday but still want to donate, North Texas Giving Day is next month and DIFD will be accepting donations. As for Rangers Today, we had some new content over the weekend. Here it is, in case you missed it.
Friday on the Farm: Notes from the affiliates
The Sunday Read: Still hope despite woes
It’s Monday. Smile. Enjoy.
A smile for your timeline.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/VrzOM1O4Lr
— Puppies 🐶 (@PuppiesIover) August 23, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com