The reaction to the first three games of the Rangers' series with the Yankees can be best captured by one simple question.
"What happened to the hitting?"
This is a totally understandable reaction after watching the league's highest scoring team score just four runs in three straight losses to the Yankees. It's also a myopic reaction that's missing the bigger lesson being taught in the Bronx this week.
That lesson? Baseball always comes back to pitching.
Bemoan the fact that the Rangers haven't been scoring runs all you want, but it's not like they have been playing in a vacuum. The Yankees have had pitchers on the mound and you can't simply erase them from the losing equation that the Rangers have drawn up over the last three nights.
Those pitchers were tasked with shutting down the Rangers and they've accomplished it regardless of who you want to assign blame or credit for the shutdown. The issue that should be stressing the Rangers right now isn't the one about when the bats will explode again, it is the one about whether or not the Rangers could do to an opponent what the Yankees have done to them.
At heart, you know that you can't count on even the best lineup in baseball to score bunches of runs every night of the season. Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and the rest of the hitters are going to have nights when they only score two or three runs. You have to win some of those games, especially come playoff time, and the only way to pull that off is by getting great pitching.
Do the Rangers have that kind of pitching? Other than Matt Harrison, it's hard to think of a pitcher that you'd count on to throw the kind of game that the Yankees have thrown in each of the last three games. It's not a question of capability, but one of consistency and the Rangers don't have a second pitcher that qualifies on that front.
The Rangers' Achilles heel isn't the offense fading out all of a sudden, it's the fact that they need the offense to score five or six runs a night to feel comfortable about winning games. Unless that changes, the Rangers won't be going anywhere this postseason.