Lorenzen's strong start squandered by lack of support

May 14th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- No team could wish for much more out of a starting pitcher than the Rangers got from against the Guardians on Monday night, especially after he battled through a long first inning.

“It’s hard to get more than that, isn’t it?” manager Bruce Bochy said of Lorenzen’s performance, easily his best since signing with the Rangers at the end of Spring Training. “Seven solid innings -- after throwing 25 pitches [in the first], there he was in the seventh, throwing the ball well. That’s all you can ask from your starter.”

The Rangers couldn’t have asked for less -- or received less -- from their offense, however, in a 7-0 loss to the Guardians at Globe Life Field -- Texas' fourth defeat in a row. When Lorenzen left, it was still a scoreless tie. But the Rangers’ offense -- and to a nearly equal extent, their bullpen -- did little to support Lorenzen.

"Right now, we’re having a tough time getting runs across the board,” Bochy said. “We need somebody to come through here.”

Along with the faltering lineup, the Rangers’ bullpen ran aground late Monday. The combination of José Leclerc, Jacob Latz and Owen White combined to surrender seven runs on seven hits.

“You’ve got to pick each other up,” Bochy said. “Eighth inning, our 'pen struggled there a little bit. ... Still, we’ve got to find a way to get some runs.”

Lorenzen, for his part, allowed only one hit -- a single -- in seven scoreless innings. But it was also the third time in his six starts for Texas that his offense has scored one or no runs in support of him.

Texas picked up Lorenzen, now in his 10th season in the Majors, as a free agent near the end of March. Having signed the day before the Rangers broke camp and left Arizona, Lorenzen’s Rangers debut was delayed a few turns in the rotation. Since his April 15 debut, his output has been workmanlike but mostly undistinguished until Monday.

He struck out four, scattered four walks and started a sparkling double play with his quick reaction on a comebacker to end the sixth inning.

“The results were good, but there’s still a lot of room to grow,” Lorenzen said. “We’re getting there.”

And yet, the result for the Rangers was no different from Lorenzen’s last time out, when he allowed six earned runs on nine hits in Oakland last Wednesday. Beginning with that defeat, Texas has lost five of its last six games. Offensive doldrums have been the main concern.

Corey Seager and Adolis García, the heroes of the 2023 postseason, continue to lag behind their production from last year. Seager was 0-for-3 Monday, and García was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He left four men on base.

“Throughout the lineup, we’re not swinging the bat as well as we normally do,” Bochy said. “[García] got a big hit [Sunday] to put us up ahead there, 1-0, but it didn’t happen for him tonight. Is he locked in? No. I think that’s fair to say.”

Indeed, few in the Rangers’ lineup have been locked in. During the four-game losing streak, their longest this season, the Rangers have scored only six runs.

Coming off a three-game sweep in Colorado, against a Rockies team that began that series with the worst record in the Majors, Bochy mentioned something before Monday’s game about finding “silver linings.” Undoubtedly, Bochy’s positive outlook and patience have contributed to his surefire Hall of Fame status and four World Series rings.

But right now, beyond his usual stoicism, maybe that there’s not much else he can say to explain why his defending champs -- with the notable exception of AL Player of the Week Marcus Semien -- can’t muster more offense lately.

“We’ll come out of this,” Bochy said. “We’re too good not to come out of it. ... You’ve got to trust them. They’re your guys. They’ve done a lot of great things. You look at last year, we had our moments last year, too. But there has to be a trust factor.”