Parking pass. Free tickets behind home plate. Dollar hot dog night. 75-degree, wind-less weather. Felix Hernandez on the mound. And the never-ever-quit Rangers in Arlington.
What could possibly go wrong?
Um, yeah, that’s a bad baseball team. No way around it.
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The defense was rotten, evidenced by four errors including Kyle Blanks’ hideous misplay of a bouncer that should’ve been – at the very least – a force-out at home plate into two runs. But what ruined – well, almost – my appetite was the Rangers’ hapless offense.
Between one of the innings the Globe Life Park video board in right field ran a promotion. A pizza chain is offering half-price pizza the day after any home game in which the Rangers score 7+ runs. This seems like a good time to remind you that Wednesdays are dollar dog nights, because there won’t be a lot of discount pizza eaten around DFW in 2015.
In April, it happened exactly once.
Granted, Hernandez is nasty. One of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s off to a 4-0 start with a 1.82 ERA. And against the Rangers’ anemic lineup he looked like Dad throwing to Little Leaguers.
A night after striking out 11 times, the Rangers had more K’s (6) than hits (5). They only threatened Hernandez in one inning, and really the only hard-hit balls of the night were Carlos Peguero's RBI double and a smash that turned into a double-play.
At one point I looked up during a Prince Fielder at-bat and sighed that he only had one homer. But then my Dad noticed something much more horrifying. While Fielder was hitting .346, no other Ranger in the lineup was above .230. That’s eight of nine batters regularly making an out 77 percent – or more – of the time. At the time the score was tied 2-2, but we felt hopeless. And we were right.
Combine an offense that leaves no margin for error with a defense that makes four of them, and you get Mariners 5, Rangers 2.
The offense has scored two or fewer runs in five of the last six games, the lone exception being an extra-inning win in Anaheim. Their stats read like hitters after one week, not one month.
Through 21 games and all of April, Shin-Soo Choo has five hits. Adrian Beltre has two RBI. And the Rangers have 10 homers.
Nelson Cruz hit his 10th last night for the Mariners.
We knew the injury-depleted pitching would be bad. We feared spotty defense. But nobody – especially already bewildered manager Jeff Banister – saw this coming.
Without the threat or hope of an offensive rally, half-hearted fans couldn’t even get the Wave going at the ballpark last night. Which begs the question: Can you never ever quit, if you never ever start?
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 currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.