Rangers' bats 'in a funk' after tough series in Colorado

May 13th, 2024

DENVER -- “We’re officially in a funk.”

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy admitted his surprise at how poorly his club’s offense performed over the weekend, particularly given the environment.

“It’s hard to explain how you come to Colorado and not swing the bats better than we did,” he said. “ … It’s never fun to get swept.”

Especially when the team doing the sweeping entered the three-game series with the worst record in MLB. The Rockies had yet to win back-to-back games, or reach double digits in wins for that matter. But Texas’ bats went cold, producing six runs in the entire series at Coors Field, losing the finale on Sunday, 3-1.

When they arrived in Denver, the Rangers were coming off a series in which they scored 35 runs against the A’s in four games. Two days prior to that series, they scored 15 against the Royals.

Then they went to the hitter’s paradise they call Coors Field … and produced three extra-base hits in 27 innings.

“I think it’s fair to say that through most of the order, you’ve got some guys who just aren’t swinging like they normally are,” Bochy said. “ … We just couldn’t mount a good inning in three games here, and that’s what surprises me more than anything -- this is Coors Field, and usually you have a few of those in a three-game series.”

Prior to the game, picked up his pink Mother’s Day bat and said he hoped there were some hits in it. There were -- he went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. But that’s just it: they were singles. In fact, each of the Rangers’ nine hits were singles.

It didn’t help that the Rockies played tremendous defense, making highlight-reel play after highlight-reel play in the field on Sunday. But in the end, a lineup consisting of the names the Rangers have can’t afford to be muzzled.

“We had a chance to win each of these ballgames,” Semien said. “I think we just didn’t come through. We had a lead yesterday and the game got away from us. … I think we need to figure out how to win those games when we’re not hitting.

“There’s a lot of ways to win a Major League Baseball game; it’s not always gonna be us scoring a ton of runs. That means defend better, run the bases better and pitch better.”

Semien has a point. As stunning as it was to see Texas’ lineup muster half a dozen runs in three games in Denver, no team scores big in every game of a 162-game season. The “Murderer’s Row” Yankees of 1927 had days when they didn’t look quite as scary for pitchers as usual.

Winning games when your lineup isn’t producing much is critical, and relief pitching is critical to accomplishing that. The Rangers’ bullpen had some issues against Colorado, giving up 11 runs over 6 1/3 innings.

On Sunday, , whom Texas has come to rely on in the midst of a spate of injuries in the starting rotation, turned in 6 2/3 strong frames, yielding two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out three.

But with the Rangers trailing by one in the eighth, Ryan McMahon led off with a double off reliever Jacob Latz, which prompted Bochy to summon Jonathan Hernández from the bullpen. Hernández struck out Elias Díaz, but then proceeded to walk the next three batters, forcing in the Rockies’ third run.

“[You’ve got to] throw strikes,” Bochy said of Hernández’s outing. “He has stuff that works in the Major Leagues -- you’ve just got to get it over the plate. You’re throwing over 97 mph with that kind of sink and a slider. He’s his own worst enemy in moments like this.

“I don’t think he realizes how good he is sometimes, because his stuff plays up here. But it doesn’t play if you don’t throw strikes.”

As for the sudden disappearance of the offense, which isn’t unprecedented -- Texas has been held to two runs or fewer 13 times this season -- Bochy said he’s not concerned.

“I can tell you some series from last year when we had a rough series,” he said. “Cincinnati, Cleveland. It’s what you have to deal with in this game. Over 162 games, you’re going to get in a little funk occasionally.”

Funks are inevitable. But funks are measured by degree, and the Rangers hope the one that began in Colorado, of all places, is short-lived.