The Rangers needed the All-Star break. They were 3-7 in their last 10 games and lost 3 of 4 at home to a bad Minnesota Twins team. The Rangers didn’t look like a team that had the best record in the American League. It was time to regroup and get ready for the second half of the season.
On Friday afternoon, the second half started at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. The three-game series is considered by many to be a potential World Series preview. After the dust cleared, the Rangers picked up right where they left off. That’s not a good thing.
Martin Perez got the call and looked good for the first five innings, allowing only one run and getting plenty of groundball and flyball outs. Then it all fell apart in the sixth, when the Cubs put five runs up on the scoreboard in route to the 6-0 win. Perez allowed six runs, five earned, in 5 2/3 innings of work. Same script as before when talking about starts by the Rangers rotation prior to the break.
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This loss isn’t all on Perez. He could have gotten out of the sixth with minimal damage, but a bad play by first baseman Prince Fielder on a grounder hurt badly. Fielder looked like he got caught in no man’s land and ended up airmailing a throw in the direction of third baseman Adrian Beltre that cost the Rangers a run. You didn’t see that type of sloppy defense by the Rangers at the beginning of the season when they raced to the top of the A.L. West. Granted, Fielder doesn’t play first base that much anymore so you can understand the rustiness.
But this game wasn’t exactly the way you wanted to start back up for the stretch run with the Astros slowly trimming the lead in the division. Sure it’s just one game and there’s no reason to walk off the ledge, but the Rangers looked like they didn’t turn the page after the end of the first half.
The good news is they get their ace back Saturday afternoon, Yu Darvish returns to the mound after his recent stint on the disabled list due to shoulder discomfort. Saturday is another chance at a fresh start for Darvish and for the Rangers.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. in Chicago.