BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Week nine was another disaster for the Rangers. Houston swept a three game series this weekend on the heels of Tampa Bay taking two of three, such that the Rangers finished 1-5 for the second consecutive week. Texas is now 3-11 since winning 10 straight games, and their record for the season is 26-31.
The Rangers’ offense again sputtered as they scored just eight runs in the series. Ranger batters continued their blistering pace of striking out, as they struck out at least 10 times in each game, including an obscene 18 in game two. They totalled 41 strikeouts in the series.
Of particular concern for Texas is Rougned Odor. He went 2-13 against the Astros to see his average drop to .204. Included were seven strikeouts. He continues to flail away at bad pitches. Opponents know and rarely throw anything in the strike zone. He did hit his eighth home run for one of the Rangers’ runs in Sunday afternoon’s 7-2 loss giving some hope of coming out of his prolonged slump.
It was a satisfying week for the Astros. Not only did they go 6-0 to run their current winning streak to 10 games, just two shy of the Astros’ franchise record; but they also ran their road winning streak to 10 games, which ties the franchise record for road wins. The current 10 game winning streak ties Texas for the longest winning streak in the Majors this year.
The Rangers have dominated the games between these two teams over the past two seasons, with Texas winning 28 of 38 meetings. The Spacemen have now won six of seven against Texas this year to surely exorcise the Ranger demons from their landscape. They also need just four more wins to return the Silver Boot trophy to Houston.
The bottom line for the Rangers though is that they have fallen to fourth place in the A. L. West and are now 15 games out of first place. A comeback to win the division from this point will take not only a strong performance from the Rangers, which they are showing no signs of doing, but a lot of help from Houston. It would be one of the all time greatest comebacks in baseball history if it were to happen.
Texas is four games out of the second Wild Card playoff berth, but they have seven teams to pass. It’s a possibility, but the Rangers need to start playing better soon.
This week, the Rangers play just five games. They are off Monday followed by a two game set with the New York Mets, which will complete the current home stand. Those games will be the Rangers’ eighth and ninth inter-league games of the season.
After another off day on Thursday, the Rangers take to the road for three games in Washington. It will be their second trip to D. C. since the Nationals’ new stadium was completed in 2009. This will be the second inter-league series this year in a National League park where the designated hitter is not utilized, giving Ranger pitchers the opportunity to bat.
The road trip is six games, with the final three being in Houston. The Rangers are 9-18 on the road so far this season.
* Elvis Andrus used this week’s off day to get married. His new wife, the former Cori Febles, is expecting the couple’s first child next month. The Andrus’s were married this week in a civil ceremony, but plan to have a larger ceremony in November in the Dominican Republic.
* Houston is 41-16 after sweeping the Rangers this weekend. They are the first Major League team to reach 40 wins this year, and have five more wins than Washington, which leads the National League. In fact, there are only two other American League teams (New York and Boston) with as many as 30 wins this season.
* The Astros last swept the Rangers in a series in 2014.