Frustrating Rangers Leaving Wins on the Table Against Lesser Opponents

Not sure which is more befuddling when it comes to the Rangers:

The fact that they’re having a Star Wars weekend at Globe Life Park? Or the fact that they play their best baseball against baseball’s best and then show up like the Bad News Bears against the lesser squads?

I’ll leave it to promotions guru Chuck Morgan to connect the dots between Luke Skywalker and Josh Hamilton. But just as confounding is how the Rangers can sweep the Astros and then lose a series to the Mariners.

The highs are high with this team, but the lows feel even lower. It’s a formula for a frustrating season of .500 baseball leaving fans muttering “we can beat anybody.” Or, unfortunately, lose to anyone as well.

Texas trotted into Seattle having won seven of eight, including a spirited three-game sweep of the AL West-leading Astros. So what happened against a team that was 10 games below .500? The Rangers lost two two-run leads – one with Cole Hamels on the mound – and lost two of three.

Bottom line: The Rangers are 2-7 against the Mariners this season and 53-48 against everyone else. Yeah, maddening.

Tuesday night they start a series in Minnesota against a Twins team in free fall. They’re 5-16 since the All-Star break, below .500 and now 12 games behind the Royals in the AL Central. Sure they have Wild Card hopes, but if the Rangers are a playoff team they must win series like this one.

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But that’s the problem. They haven’t.

Since the break the Rangers have split or won a series against the Angels, Yankees, Giants and Astros, each sporting winning records and near the top of their divisions. But losing two of three in Seattle dropped them to a dismal 25-34 against teams below .500.

This can’t just be coincidence. There’s something about the mindset of this team that amps it for “big” games and then steps off the mental and physical pedal in run-of-the-mill series.

It needs to change. Now. The Rangers are in the Wild Card mix, and in their next four series – Twins, Rays, Mariners and Tigers – they face beatable teams at or below .500. Somehow, manager Jeff Banister has to convince his players that these indeed are also “big” games.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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