'We let that one get away': Little things come back to haunt Texas

June 19th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- The little things were a theme on Tuesday night.

One thing that made the Rangers one of the best teams in baseball a year ago was that they were nearly perfect at all the little things -- from running the bases to turning routine ground balls into outs and everything in between.

On Tuesday night, as the Rangers allowed the Mets to score five unanswered runs over the game's final four frames, it was the little things that culminated into a 7-6 loss that extended Texas’ losing streak to five games.

“It’s a tough one, no getting around it,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “We let that one get away.”

It’s the Rangers’ third loss when leading after seven innings this season. It’s the kind of loss that’s magnified by a series of “little things” that snowballed into one of the toughest losses of the season.

Little thing No. 1: Quiet offense late in games
The Rangers' offense has been one of the biggest culprits of this season’s struggles. It’s hard to criticize the offense again when they’re able to put up six runs like they did on Tuesday. The biggest issue, though, came after all the run scoring was over.

All but one of the Rangers’ runs came in the fifth inning, when a pair of homers from Josh Smith and Wyatt Langford gave the club it’s first lead of the day.

But after the big fifth inning, the Rangers didn’t have another baserunner until the bottom of the ninth, when Jonah Heim hit a leadoff single. That was automatically erased when Ezequiel Duran hit into a double play. Texas did not have a runner in scoring position over the final four innings in the loss.

“We need to build off what we did offensively,” said Marcus Semien, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. “I think that we did some good things. We also didn't take care of some little things. The offense has been a big concern. obviously. We had some life in our bats today, but we also have to do the other things that we did really well last year, all the little things.”

Little thing No. 2: Defensive miscues
Bochy’s biggest emphasis as a manager is dominating the fundamentals. In the Bochy era, the Rangers have been one of the most defensively sound teams in baseball.

Though Texas was only charged with one official error on Tuesday -- a catcher’s interference from Gold Glover Jonah Heim in the ninth inning -- there were multiple plays that could have been made, but were not.

As the Mets steadily chipped away at the Rangers’ lead in the final frames Tuesday night, Texas infielders booted two potential double-play balls -- one in the fifth inning and another in the seventh -- that eventually allowed runs to score.

“Those are ones we normally turn, that's gonna happen occasionally,” Bochy said. “The one thing throughout this stretch is that we have played well defensively ... We just haven’t scored a lot of runs. Tonight, we got the runs and like I said, we couldn’t quite finish it off.”

Little thing No. 3: Solo homers
Most pitchers will tell you that solo homers won’t kill you. But when the team as a whole is struggling as much as the Rangers right now, almost anything will kill you.

So although Michael Lorenzen produced his eighth quality start of the season, two of the three runs he allowed came on solo homers from Mark Vientos and Brandon Nimmo, keeping the Mets right within striking distance most of the night.

“You hope to be the guy that comes in and sets the tone and gets you back on track,” Lorenzen said. “That's what I tried to do today. I just wasn't good enough. So it's disappointing, but our guys are going to show up and continue to work. Obviously, these guys know what it's like to be champions, so if anyone knows how to do it, it’s this clubhouse.”

The Rangers are now a season-high seven games under .500 as they’ve lost 10 of their last 14 games. The clubhouse has continually emphasized that there’s no panic in the room. But Lorenzen maybe summed it up best.

“We have a lot of games left,” he said. “But every game needs to be played with a sense of urgency. I don't care where you're at, when it is, there should be just a sense of pride that we have as Major League Baseball players, as professional athletes. The work that we put in during the offseason, the prep that we put in leading to every game, there's a sense of pride that goes into your work. So it shouldn't matter how many games are left or where we're at in the season.”