ARLINGTON -- For much of this season, the Rangers were rolling along steadily. They felt inevitable as they enjoyed one of the best starts in franchise history, holding a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League West entering Monday.
But over the past week -- month, even -- Texas’ offense hasn’t felt quite as inevitable. Monday night’s 7-2 loss to the Tigers at Globe Life Field illustrated the struggles that the team has faced for most of June.
The only runs the Rangers scored were two solo homers from Marcus Semien and Adolis García. Texas hitters struck out 16 times, easily surpassing the previous season high of 14. The Rangers went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine runners on base as they opened the final homestand before the All-Star break with a demoralizing loss.
“That surprised me a little bit, to be honest, to have that many strikeouts,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I do think we expanded at times, which is not our game. Now, is that pressing? I don't know. I think we do have a couple guys that maybe can use a break on the mental side as much as anything. These guys are trying hard, believe me. They're taking it hard, and you just have to stay behind them and give them a break occasionally, and that's what we'll do.”
While Tigers starter Matthew Boyd exiting with an injury just 15 pitches into the first inning and reliever Will Vest quickly following him off the field in the second caused the offense to have to adjust sooner rather than later, Bochy emphasized that wouldn’t be an excuse for how poorly the Rangers executed throughout the night.
“They still have to get the ball over the plate, and we have to swing the bat," Bochy said. "So no, I don't think that had anything to do with it."
This comes after a series loss to the Yankees in the Bronx this past weekend, when the Rangers scored just seven runs across three games, including a shutout on Saturday. Throughout the series, Texas failed time and time again to get the big hit, finishing 7-for-30 (.233) with runners in scoring position and leaving 30 runners on base.
This recent stretch of games is even more shocking considering that the Rangers’ offense was one of the best in the Majors through the first two months of the season. They scored more runs than any other team through the end of May and had the best run differential in MLB for some time.
“I don't think so,” Bochy added again, when asked if guys were pressing at the plate. “But with that said, I think we have a couple of guys that may need a day off. I'll talk to them. … But it's the ebbs and flows over a season. I mean, you're going to have these lulls, and that's what's happening now. We'll come out of this. We're too good of a club, too good of an offensive club. You're going to have these times, and you have to keep pushing and move forward, and we will turn the page.”
The Rangers’ offense hasn't dipped too much in June, despite the 12-11 record this month. Their strikeouts per game (8.87 in June) are also on par with April (8.78) and May (8.85).
Offense by month
- April: .257/.336/.441 (6.2 runners left on base per game)
- May: .286/.341/.456 (7 LOB/G)
- June: .269/.341/.462 (8.5 LOB/G)
The real issue has materialized in the Rangers’ performance with runners in scoring position.
Offense with RISP by month
- April: .331/.379/.587 (4.5 LOB/G)
- May: .323/.370/.475 (5.3 LOB/G)
- June: .248/.325/.436 (6.6 LOB/G)
In the previous two months, Texas was performing at historic, almost unsustainable numbers with runners in scoring position. Now, it’s notably bad in those same situations in June.
“I wish I could say there was something there,” Bochy said of the struggles with RISP. “You're right, there's no way we were going to sustain what we were doing. You'd like to stay a little bit closer to it. I don't think we saw the struggles that we've had recently because of the hitters that we have. But hey, it happens, like I said. It's part of the game, you have to deal with it. What's important is how you deal with it and being able to, as I said, turn the page. Now let's move on and be ready to go tomorrow."