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Rangers overpowered in Toronto series opener

Trio of homers break up another quiet night at plate
@baseballexis
August 12, 2019

TORONTO -- As the Rangers’ offense has battled through its struggles at the plate of late, the biggest concern for manager Chris Woodward is that his team might start thinking the way he once did. Ahead of Monday’s 19-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Texas had hit

TORONTO -- As the Rangers’ offense has battled through its struggles at the plate of late, the biggest concern for manager Chris Woodward is that his team might start thinking the way he once did.

Ahead of Monday’s 19-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Texas had hit .235/.298/.424 in the second half, and through the first 11 days in August, the hitters slashed .199/.283/.376 with 88 strikeouts in nine games.

Box score

Heading into the final series of a 10-day, nine-game road trip, the Rangers had scored 10 runs in their first six matchups, batting .155/.251/.287 and going 0-for-22 with runners in scoring position with two sacrifice flies.

On Monday, Texas went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position but three solo homers were all the visitors could muster until Jose Trevino drove in a ninth-inning run with a single. Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun and Rougned Odor each went yard in the affair.

“We haven’t hit with runners in scoring position too well, but at the same time you have to continue to create opportunities and get on base,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “That’s the only way we’re going to get back to scoring a lot of runs. We have to be more aggressive, especially early. We haven’t scored many runs early lately. That’s something we need to focus on.”

Though Mazara gave the visitors a brief lead in the matchup with his 16th home run of the season, it didn’t take long for the Blue Jays to answer and build a mountain of runs Texas just couldn’t climb.

“We had a 1-0 lead at one point, and I thought we were going to do some damage against them, but we gave the lead right back,” Woodward said. “Then we’re down, 5-1, and it almost takes away our offensive approach at that point. … Guys have got to step up in that situation and just stop the bleeding at some point.”

Though the Rangers were undone by their pitching on Monday, there’s no doubt from the lineup that the hitting struggles have had an effect on the team’s staff.

“The only way we’re going to make our pitching staff comfortable is to put some runs up," Andrus said. "Especially on the road trip, we haven’t hit anything. They’ve been pitching really well -- today was just one of those days. Those [Blue Jays] kids are really hot right now.”

During Woodward’s playing days -- days that started with the Blue Jays' organization, where he spent 12 of his 19 years on the field -- he and his teammates believed that in times of difficulty, their issues would eventually just work themselves out. With information not as readily available to them as it is to the players now, it was a matter of waiting, which is exactly what he doesn’t want the Rangers to do.

“I don’t like seeing our guys struggle,” Woodward said. “That’s concerning. I know that it’s part of the game. The only concerning aspect I would have is if I don’t see adjustments we’ve made to what’s happening, and if we’re just going to hope that things get better, because that’s what our old-school mentality tells us -- we’ll get out of it eventually.”

On Sunday, Texas snapped a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over the Brewers. To that point, the club had won six of its last 10 games, with a lot of credit belonging to its arms, helping to battle some of the offensive woes. Monday was a different story, on a night when the Rangers’ hurlers held the home team off the scoreboard in only two frames -- the first and seventh innings -- putting the pressure back on the offense.

“You tend to chase the scoreboard,” Woodward said. “That’s why I preach pressure. When you create pressure on the other team, they do the same thing. It’s hard to battle back, one by one by one, when you know you’re down by five, six, seven, and all of a sudden you get down quite a bit.

"It’s hard to see the big picture [that], 'I need to grind out this at-bat to get on base,' when we need seven more, or five more. But we have to maintain that mentality. We’ve done that pretty much all year, we’ve been pretty resilient.”

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.