Rangers hope bats recharge back home
Texas shut out on back-to-back days to close 5-5 road trip
SEATTLE -- The Rangers finished 5-5 on their 10-game road trip to the West Coast. The Rangers don't need to be playing .500 baseball in the middle of a pennant race, but that might be considered a major accomplishment considering their offensive struggles on their Pacific trip.
Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez added to the Rangers' hitting woes by holding them scoreless for eight innings on three hits, four walks and eight strikeouts in a 5-0 win on Thursday. When Tom Wilhelmsen closed it out in the ninth, the Rangers had been shut out for the fourth time in 10 games.
"We just didn't have a road trip where we swung the bats like we have been," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "We still found ways to win ballgames. We've just got to find our groove. We have a good team and a good offense. We would have liked to have gone 10-0, but we went out there and played hard every game. You want to win every game. It could have been better, but it could have been worse."
The Rangers return home 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading Astros in the American League West and one game ahead of the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.
The good news for the Rangers is they now return to Arlington, where they play 17 of their last 23 games. The Rangers are also expecting to have center fielder Delino DeShields back on Friday. He missed three games because of a sprained left knee but said he should be "good to go" for the series opener against the Athletics.
The Rangers go into that game having not scored in their last 19 innings. During the road trip, the Rangers hit .183 with 28 runs scored, six home runs, a .297 on-base percentage and a .290 slugging percentage. They scored 17 runs and hit five of the home runs in two games: an 8-6 win over the Padres and a 9-6 win over the Mariners.
Their biggest problem was hitting with runners in scoring position. The Rangers were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position on Thursday and 8-for-66 (.121) on the trip. They were 1-for-20 in the five losses.
"We've got to take a look at our at-bats with runners on base and when we get two strikes," manager Jeff Banister said. "We've got to get back to being that tough hitter when we get down in the count. We've got to string some at-bats together, pass the baton, be a tough out, use the middle of the field, take walks.
"That is who we are when we are going well. We've got to find a way to get back to that quickly, back to being a tough out. I still feel good about our offense. We just have to put back-to-back games together mounting one offensive challenge after another."
There are 23 games left to do that.
"This is the time of year, the margin of error is slim," Banister said. "You've got to be on top of your game."