A fool opined about how these new Texas Rangers would be constructed, and instructed, to win games not only by scores of 13-2 but also 3-2. Fool, meet gold. Er, copper. The teasing peep show we’ve seen the last eight years -- eye-popping blowouts negated by numerous close losses; gaudy offensive stats adding up to a sub-.500 record -- is alive and well in Arlington.
Sunday in Houston the Rangers put up 14 runs. Followed that up Monday with another 14. In games where they didn’t need it, Texas’ hitters poured it on. Already up 6-2 on the Twins Monday night, catcher Gerald Laird hit his first career grand slam in an eight-run inning. Impressive. Woo. And hoo. But before the smoke from the fireworks cleared and the reverberations from The Natural faded, Texas lost its next two games, managing only four runs and striking out more than George Clooney at Jerry Falwell’s wake. Twenty nine times. Twenty-nine.
“In the past the Rangers were a team you could grind on in close games, and eventually they’d snap,” manager Ron Washington told me back in the winter. “That’s going to change.”
When, exactly? You can see the four-game span as an offensive surge in which Texas amassed eight runs per game. Or you can see it for the sad reality it is: a four-game span during which hitters produced in relaxed, blowout settings but choked into whiffs during tense games.
The result? On May 24 the Rangers find themselves tied for the worst record in baseball. Worse, Scott Feldman is not only a crappy pitcher, but a really dumb one. And Hank Blalock -- Washington’s pet project -- is sidelined for at least six weeks after surgery to have a rib removed. Only the Rangers. --Richie Whitt
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