It's sad to say, but most Rangers fans half-expected this.
Not the fact that Texas has dropped five straight; not the fact that the Rangers' team batting average for the last week and a half is a considerable distance from the Mendoza Line; not even the fact that outside of Seattle, Matt Harrison has yet to beat a winning team in 2009.
What Texas fans half-expected--some more than others, to be certain--was the terrible ignominy that has accompanied this latest stretch. Tuesday night was a fitting example.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia channeled Major League 2's Rube Baker, firing a ball over Jason Jennings's head and allowing a run to score. Justin Upton would homer shortly after that, on a ball that apparently deflected off rightfielder Nelson Cruz's glove.
This is a performance befitting a Rangers team in the chaos of Yankee Stadium; only they weren't in Yankee Stadium, they were at Chase Field in Phoenix, losing to the cellar-dweller of the National League West, a full two games back of fourth place -- and up coming Rangers opponent -- San Diego Padres.
These stretches, very simply, can kill a team.
Thus, Vicente Padilla has a golden opportunity to be a hero on Wednesday night; not in the traditional sense, in which the victor will be showered in glory and praise. Texas fans will meet the next win with a sigh of relief, not an exaltation.
But, in any case, a hero is a hero.
And, as it stands now, the Rangers need one of those.