Rangers must rebound from a mediocre May... or else
On the record, Rangers’ manager Ron Washington is a proponent of “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” and he will speak openly.
Starter Derek Holland, 25, was a marked man until he belted out a redemptive win on Tuesday night in Oakland — having allowed three runs on seven hits, two walks, while striking out two in Texas’ 6-3 win over the last place Athletics.
Holland was previously in jeopardy of forcing his manager’s hand following his lead role in Texas’ horrendous 21-8 home loss to Seattle on May 30. The scuffling lefty coughed up eight Mariner runs in a dizzying 1.2 innings. Washington, whom Holland describes as "a very motivational coach,” was set to unsheathe leather if his starter imploded once more.
“I believe Derek is going to bounce back. He has to bounce back,” Washington told MLB.com before Tuesday night’s game. “If he goes out there and has another one and two-thirds of an inning, I think I might have to pull my belt off and throw him across my lap and spank him. My belt is loose around my waist.”
Alas, we’re left to imagine what trans-generational men locked into a corporal punishment crucifix might look like.
In developments outside the FetLife, team president and CEO Nolan Ryan outlined the culprits behind Texas’ lackluster May (14-14) to 103.3 ESPN Dallas. “Our defense has absolutely killed us. We’ve been swinging at bad pitches. We haven’t been selective of the hitters. We haven’t had big hits. When you start looking at the team in the month of May, we just didn’t play good baseball.”
Fielding remains the most troublesome aspect of Texas’ play: their top-ranked offense and efficient team pitching (ranked fifth in the AL) have significantly outperformed their mediocre team defense.
Though Texas’ 33-23 mark on June 6 represents baseball’s second-best record (behind the Dodgers’, 35-21), their surplus of wins were earned in their resounding 17-6 month of April. They’ve played sub-.500 since, 16-17. Washington’s frustration maxed-out after Saturday night’s loss in Anaheim and prompted the skipper to call a rare team meeting—that’s a 25 to one maximus-to-belt ratio, if we’re mathematizing.
ESPN Dallas reports that Washington preached playing “Ranger baseball,” and did refrain from recycling Homer Simpson’s notorious "It’s spankin’ season, and I got a hankerin’ for some spanker'in’.”
The sixth-year Ranger's manager’s wake-up call has produced mixed-results, as Texas topped Anaheim in their series’ finale, 7-3, but got throttled (for the second time in six days) and nearly a no-hit by Oakland rookie Jarrod Parker on Monday. Texas starter Scott Feldman fared just as bad toeing the rubber that day, a 12-1 loss.
With a ballooned 7.01 ERA this season, Feldman has been a stopgap fifth-starter since Neftali Feliz hit the disabled-list on May 21. However, Texas’ recent signing of 11-year veteran — and former Astro-ace — Roy Oswalt (now 34) spell Feldman’s demotion once Feliz returns and Oswalt completes 2-3 more starts with Triple-A Round Rock. Both pitchers are slated to be available by late June to round out a rotation that will be at least theoretically wealthy.
The first-place Rangers hold a 4.5 game lead over second-place Los Angeles of Anaheim entering Texas’ Wednesday evening game at Oakland.