Rangers lose behind another 'frustrating' day at the plate

June 9th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- On June 4, after a loss to the Tigers at home, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was blunt.

“You should be able to give up three runs and win the ballgame,” he said then.

That’s becoming the theme for the Rangers this season. On Saturday afternoon, that theme was felt more than ever, as Texas fell 3-1 to San Francisco at Globe Life Field. The club is now 2-7 in its last nine series dating back to its four-game set in Oakland on May 6-8.

Rangers starter allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Giants on Saturday. It was the 20th straight game that a Texas starter had allowed three or fewer runs in a game. Unfortunately, after Heaney shouldered the loss, the club is 8-12 in those 20 games.

“Good effort [by Heaney],” Bochy said postgame on Saturday. “There’s not much to say, except that we're just not doing much offensively. That's been the story for a while here. We could have used a little luck there, but we shouldn’t be looking for that. We just need to get some consistent at-bats and get a barrel on the ball.”

It was the fifth time this season that Heaney has suffered a loss in a start in which he allowed three earned runs or fewer, which is tied with Anaheim’s Patrick Sandoval (5) for the most such outings in MLB this season.

Heaney has received one or zero runs of support in six of his 12 starts this season.

But Heaney, like Michael Lorenzen in Friday night’s loss to the Giants, emphasized that the pitching staff doesn’t feel any sort of pressure that comes with a struggling offense.

“Regardless of the score, the goal is always to put up zeros,” Heaney said. “I’m just trying to put up zeros.”

He can say that -- and truthfully mean it -- but much like a number of pitching performances before this weekend, none of that matters if the Rangers don’t score. Across the current 20-game stretch in which the Rangers' starting pitchers have been phenomenal, the offense has only scored more than four runs five times.

In Saturday’s loss, three of the Rangers’ five hits were infield singles. The only run was scored on a sacrifice fly from Nathaniel Lowe in the bottom of the first; Texas proceeded to go 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, while stranding seven on base.

“That’s what's frustrating,” infielder Josh Smith said. “Our pitching is doing a good enough job to keep us in games. Whereas last year, we went out and put up to like 15 runs every game. It's a different year. So hopefully the pitching can just keep doing what they're doing. Baseball is weird. Two days from now, a week from now on, the offense could get going and things will change.”

More than anything, it’s frustrating for the players, who were part of an offense that was the best in the American League in 2023.

The Rangers are undoubtedly missing the bat of Josh Jung, who has been on the injured list since April 2 with a wrist fracture. Evan Carter recently landed on the injured list with a back injury. Fellow rookie Wyatt Langford has struggled to adjust to big league pitching early on, and dealt with a hamstring strain recently.

Even superstar shortstop Corey Seager has missed these two games against the Giants as he nurses hamstring tightness of his own.

“It's been frustrating,” Smith said. “I think we honestly really need Josh Jung back. He's a key piece of the lineup. He's just a leader. He's a workhorse. We're missing him pretty badly right now and then for Seager obviously to not be playing these past couple games. We need him to get healthy. It's kind of been up and down for the offense this year. So hopefully, we'll string some things together pretty soon.”

There are things to point to for the Rangers' offensive struggles, but the issue doesn’t lie in one injury or one approach.

Bochy has tried to change things up. He’s moved things around in the batting order, most notably putting Adolis García in the three-hole for the first time this season. The bottom of the order has been a rotating cast of characters as the skipper tries to find the perfect fit to get the gears turning.

It’s all still a work in progress.

“We're trying to change things up, tweak things,” Bochy said. “We just gotta get some guys hot, gotta get those hits with runners in scoring position. Really, we’ve gotta create more opportunities. We had three hits that were really little infield hits. There's probably some pressing going on here, I can say that. This is just gonna be a case where somebody gets a big hit or something to get things rolling. We're missing that.”