Rangers, lacking 'spark' at the plate, go down quietly

June 8th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- It was an off night for the Rangers’ pitching staff. There’s no getting around that.

Michael Lorenzen gave up a pair of solo homers to Wilmer Flores, the usually steady David Robertson gave up a two-run shot to Michael Conforto and Grant Anderson recorded just one out before giving up the final run of the evening in the eighth inning.

It all led to a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Giants at Globe Life Field, and it would be easy enough to look at the pitching performance as the reason why.

The pitching hasn’t been perfect across the board. It never is.

But it’s the Rangers' inconsistent offense that has led to the recent struggles, like an 11-16 record in May and a slow start to June.

“I just need to do my job,” Lorenzen said when asked about the offense. “I want to put up zeros every time I take the ball, no matter what. So it doesn't matter if we're up 10 or if it's a one-run game. I want to put up a zero and I want to pitch to the best of my ability either way.”

The Rangers recorded just one hit across the first four innings against San Francisco’s Logan Webb.

“Logan’s tough,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “He’s tough on a lot of teams. I thought the guys did a good job. They came back and tied the game. We got some men on base there, we just couldn't get another hit. They battled and Lorenzen kept us in the game.”

The fifth inning was a pure example of what this Rangers offense could be. When the gears are moving, they’re able to manufacture runs, even without the long ball.

After falling behind 2-0 after the two Flores homers, the Rangers came out in the fifth with four hits -- including a hustle double from Wyatt Langford and an RBI single from Ezequiel Duran -- and a sacrifice fly from Robbie Grossman to tie the game.

“[Wyatt] is fun to watch,” Bochy said of the fifth inning. “It’s exciting how he's so aggressive on the bases. He's got great instincts out there and he knew he could get to second and got it standing up. He put us in a great situation there. Robbie had a productive out, big bat there to give us a run and to get a man on third with one out. So we did have some good things happen tonight.”

That inning looked like the start of something. It could have been a spark to start a rally towards a big series-opening win. Instead, the Rangers did not manage another baserunner after that run-scoring fifth. They didn’t even draw a single walk all game long.

Bochy insisted that there’s no one-size-fits-all fix at the moment. The struggles are individual to each guy, even as it affects the entire team.

“You want these guys to be aggressive,” Bochy said. “There's a fine line there, because we are looking to hit the ball hard too, you know, catch it on the barrel. It’s hard to do with the stuff that [Webb] has out there, you understand that. You figure you need to keep it a close ballgame when you're going against somebody like Webb.”

Prior to the loss, the Rangers were slashing .217/.290/.354 with 76 runs (3.3 runs per game) over their last 23 games beginning on May 10. That stretch dropped their batting average from .258 to .243.

There have been bursts of offense over this brutal stretch, like a nine-run game against the Tigers to avoid a sweep earlier this homestand and a big weekend in Miami before that. But it’s been nowhere near consistent.

And if it’s felt like the Rangers are out of it the second their opponent scores a third run, that may be a correct observation. The Rangers are 2-19 (.095) when they score two runs or fewer this season, and 28-13 (.683) when they score three or more runs.

“It just seems like when you don't get it going, you need somebody to spark you,” Bochy said. “We have a guy or two, but sometimes, it’s gotta be everybody.”