Raging Against The Rangers' Machine.
By Thom Fain on Wednesday August 1 2012 at 3:54 PM
Ron Washington can't like what he's seeing right now, watching his first-place team lose its recent battles in the War Against the League.
Back in May and June, the Texas Rangers looked great -- like a machine, even. Like an M1 Abrams battle tank. They triumphantly rolled over almost anything in their path, greasing their treads on the guts of The Enemy in their pursuit of Glory. And they did so behind the high-powered cannon known as Josh Hamilton.
Yet something has happened since.
You see, a man who doesn't understand a machine might think that it's performing well after an extra fine bolt has been thrown into an engine. Because, since the bolt's clanking around the gears and making a lot of noise and all, then surely it's that piece that is the most important part.
But what he cannot see is that it's the sturdy gear revolving ever so thoroughly around in the engine that is truly the essential part of a machine's proper functioning.
That extra fine bolt is only harmful to the machine in the end.
In the case of Your Texas Rangers, the sturdy gear has been the team's powerful batting rotation. The extra fine bolt is its starting pitching. And, in the months of June and July, neither has cooperated with their counterpart. That's a troubling thought, too -- especially since that high-powered cannon we've got in Hamilton has been held to an abysmal .177 at the plate in the month of July.
Meanwhile, on the pitching front, those top guns (Joe Nathan, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison) sent to Kansas to bear our state flag at the All-Star game have combined for just two wins and three saves since returning. And they've allowed a combined 27 runs in the process.
In other words, the Rangers' machine is in need of repair.
• The Rangers' hottest hitter in the last seven days is David Murphy (.293), who had eight hits in and 20 at-bats, with five of those being doubles. Three of his hits came against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday in the team's 2-0 victory -- the lone bright spot in a week that Rangers fans would rather soon forget.
• The AL West-leading Rangers (59-43) are now just three games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Seems, too, our hometown team is simply content to have other teams to beat the Angels, instead of just doing it themselves. The Rangers dropped the first two games of this week's series against Anaheim, and were outscored 21-10 in those defeats.
• Maybe the Rangers' pitching situation will stabilize with the acquisition of Ryan Dempster (5-5), who came into July with an ERA below 2.00 for the Cubs. The team could certainly use some help here. Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison have both been struggling, and the team needs Scott Feldman (5-6) to continue pitching the way he did in that eight-inning shutout he had against the White Sox on Sunday. Especially since Neftali Feliz's season is now down as he'll be undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow.
• Here's a fun fact: Scott Feldman is one of just seven Rangers pitchers to toss a shutout in 8-plus innings while requiring 11 or fewer pitches per inning to do it. Only one Ranger has done that twice: Derek Holland, whose moustache and mullet we still greatly miss.
• The Rangers were outscored 110 to 81 in the month of July as Josh Hamilton looked more like a Pony Leaguer than an MVP. Sometimes you've got to wonder if something's not right with that boy.
Thing is, we all know what Hamilton has in him -- the ability to create the best Sportscenter highlights this side of Kirk Gibson. He did hit a home run this week, though, so maybe something's clicking.
• The Rangers made a few notable transactions in the past week. Texas acquired Dempster from the Cubs for third baseman Christian Villanueva and right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks, both from high-Class A Myrtle Beach. The team also sent right-hander Jake Brigham and either a player to be named later or cash considerations (which has yet to be determined) to the Cubs for former NL Rookie of the Year catcher Geovany Soto. Texas also reinstated Mitch Moreland from the 15-day DL, and optioned OF Leonys Martin to Round Rock. In light of the Soto trade, the team designated catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment.