BALTIMORE -- As September nears an end, so does the 2021 season for the Rangers. Before heading to Globe Life Field for the final six games of the season, they closed their final road trip with a 7-4 win over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.
“We ended up with a happy flight home,” said manager Chris Woodward on the win. “Obviously, our last road trip and last road game of the year, it does feel good anytime you end on a good note. It feels good, but we obviously got to play better if we're going to contend over the course of the season. We got to play better on the road.”
Things have been tough on the road for the Rangers both at the plate and on the mound this season. After Sunday’s contest, they own the third-lowest road batting average (.227) in MLB and the second-highest road ERA (5.27) in the American League.
After Andy Ibáñez hit a two-run homer in the fourth, starter Dane Dunning allowed a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame to Anthony Santander, erasing the club’s lead. The Rangers' pitching staff extended its club record of homers allowed on the road to 129.
“I think the road is all about competing and playing the game,” Nathaniel Lowe said. “I think we as a unit need to be better as far as just playing the game and doing what the game is asking us to do instead of trying to change our game for different stadiums. It's no secret that the ball is not afraid to jump out of the yard here [at Camden Yards]. We need to do what we need to do in order to make ourselves a better team and just play our game.”
Despite the win, the Rangers close their road portion of the year 24-57 -- the second-worst road record in club history over a full season. The 1973 Rangers won 22 games on the road.
The team is young, the fifth-youngest in MLB to be exact. Texas has used a club record 26 rookies in 2021 -- the second most in the American League. Sunday's starter was a rookie and the lineup featured four more in Yonny Hernandez, García, Ibáñez and Leody Taveras. When asked if the lack of experience is to blame for the poor road record, Woodward agreed, but only partially.
“I don't feel like there was any deer in the headlight moments where we were intimidated by the road or by the fans or anything like that,” Woodward said. “I just don't think we executed very well. Overall, I don't think there was anything glaring that we need to focus on, we just need to play better.”
Resilience is a word this team has used over and over again. Woodward wished that the team could have yielded better results, however, he’s proud of the way his team never backed down regardless of other circumstances.
“Regardless of the record, regardless of how we've underperformed as a whole, regardless of how many times you've had to take it in the mouth on the road, this group's not going to quit,” Lowe said. “We've got a week left, and we can't quit for one inning. Regardless of who we're playing, whether it's a 100-win Giants team or a 100-loss Baltimore team, every team can go out there and beat us.”