HOUSTON -- After a six-game, seven-day road trip to San Francisco and Houston, the Rangers are returning home winless in those games.
Capped off with a 6-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, Texas undid a lot of work to get to .500, sitting at 18-24 a quarter through the season. The Rangers again battled back from a 2-0 deficit against the Astros with a two-run homer by David Dahl and made it a competitive match up to late in the game.
“They're starting to see how one mistake or one play or one bad pitch, one critical event can cause [the game to change], especially against a good team,” said manager Chris Woodward. “[The Astros] take advantage of that it seems like every time. But I have a ton of confidence in this group. I want to make sure that they don't feel sorry for themselves because nobody ever feels sorry for you in this game.”
Starter Kyle Gibson kept the Rangers close after Houston jumped ahead to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The ace went seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits against the highest-scoring team in MLB. While the offense fought, it wasn’t able to pull through.
That’s been the story of a lot of the Rangers losses during the skid -- good but not good enough. All except for a 10-4 loss to the Astros on Friday and the loss on Sunday have been decided by two runs or less.
Gibson emphasized that the Rangers don’t really need to change much about how they’re playing because of the nature of the games.
“Just a couple of plays here and there, a couple of pitches here and there, this road trip is a lot different,” Gibson explained. “So we’ve got to realize and understand that, when you're in the game and when you're competing and not getting blown out every game, it's just little small adjustments that can turn a loss into a win. We've been really close to these games and we’ve just gotta keep grinding.”
Gibson, as one of the veterans on the Rangers squad, said he doesn’t have to say much of anything in the clubhouse about the rough patch because nobody in the clubhouse likes losing. It’s more about the energy and confidence coming off both the veterans and the rookies alike.
The Rangers don’t have much of a break at the moment, either. The team now heads home to face another tough seven-game homestand with series against the Yankees and Astros again.
Gibson said that, while it’s cliché, the clubhouse is just focused on taking it one game at a time and not getting too caught up in whatever is down the line. But nobody is panicking within the organization as they fight to move up in the standings.
“I think you just show up and you understand your goals for the day,” Gibson said. “You understand the process that you're going through and you make sure you stay focused on that. It's still really early. There's no need to be peeking at standings or anything like that. We’ve got so many things that we're worried about day to day and getting better and developing.
“I don't see anybody showing up and cowering down and hanging their head down on the last five games. We're gonna show up tomorrow and our job as veterans is to go out there and be the best version of ourselves, each and every day.”
Woodward said this team is well-equipped to deal with adversity like this because of its unwavering confidence from top to bottom. He has confidence in the Rangers because of their confidence, but he echoes Gibson in that the “little things” have got to get better in every aspect.
“They have to keep their heads up and let this sting a little bit,” Woodward said. “I know everybody in that clubhouse was upset after the game, but I want them to be upset. That's going to drive them a little bit, fuel and a little bit to just get that much better.”