Rangers go from wild one to mild one

Offense has an off night vs. Padres after emotional AL West battle

July 29th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- On Wednesday, the Rangers completed a three-game set in Houston with a wild, emotional finale as Texas avoided a sweep at the hands of its intrastate rival.

That fire didn’t quite carry over Friday night, as the Rangers opened the three-game set in San Diego with a 7-1 loss to the Padres at Petco Park.

For a team in the thick of a pennant race, Texas seemed to struggle in multiple phases, while dropping a game against a team under .500. And on a night when the Astros lost to the Rays, the Rangers could’ve used the opportunity to pad their lead atop the AL West, which remains at two games.

The offense mustered just six hits, three of which came from Josh Jung, and stranded 10 runners while going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The bullpen, like much of the season, struggled to get outs. San Diego scored four runs in one inning against Yerry Rodríguez.

“Well today, they got the hits and we didn’t,” manager Bruce Bochy said, simply.

The outfield defense also looked uncharacteristically sloppy on multiple plays, including a miscommunication between Travis Jankowski and Leody Taveras on a fly ball from Gary Sánchez into left-center field that resulted in an RBI double instead of a sure out.

All that put together was a recipe for an upsetting loss after Wednesday’s fiery finale. 

“You're going to have days where you’re not quite as crisp as you would like to be,” Bochy said. “It was a ballgame at that point going into the sixth. It happens sometimes. You hate to see it, but it doesn't happen very often with us.”

Rangers starter , who gave up three runs in five innings, said that scoreboard watching isn’t something he thinks about in general, but especially when he’s pitching.

“I don’t look at the standings,” Dunning said. “I couldn’t tell you how many games up we are. I don't ever really pay attention to that. I kind of just pay attention to what I have that day and the games that we're playing and try to help the team as much as I can.”

The Rangers are rightfully focused on controlling what they can control. With that comes the offense. The bottom of the Rangers’ lineup -- Robbie Grossman, Mitch Garver, Ezequiel Duran and Taveras -- combined to go 1-for-13 with two walks Friday.

Offensive struggles could almost be expected, or at least could be understandable throughout the lineup. The Rangers were already without star shortstop Corey Seager, who landed on the IL with a thumb sprain on July 22. Then Friday afternoon brought the news that fellow All-Star Jonah Heim would be out at least two to three weeks with a left wrist tendon strain suffered in Houston earlier in the week.

But Bochy was quick to not blame the injuries for the stymied offense tonight.

“We're not going to focus on the injuries,” he said. “There's no point in it. We’ve got to keep pushing. Next man up -- that's how we look at it. We've done a nice job all year, dealing with injuries and things like that. So that's not the issue. We just ran into a really good pitcher tonight. They did a great job there, and you tip your cap when you get pitched to like we did tonight.”

And despite the off night against Padres starter Joe Musgrove, offense is still the least of the Rangers' worries.

“Our offense has been amazing all year,” Dunning said. “We're going to run into a couple games like this here and there. I thought Musgrove threw a very, very good game, but I’m not worried about our offense. We're going to bounce back tomorrow or the next day and be able to go from there. Those guys are talented hitters, and they've been doing a lot of damage this entire year. It's hard to keep them from scoring.”