Injuries, Hitting Slump Take Their Toll On Rangers

Eric LoganContributor IJune 15, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 09:  Centerfielder Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers on April 9, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

While it is way too soon for Rangers fans to begin to panic, the last two series against the Blue Jays and the Dodgers definitely show that the Rangers have entered a rough patch. Chief among their problems are a string of injuries to key players and a persistent June hitting slump.

The problems began, of course, with the loss of Josh Hamilton last month after his spectacular catch, resulting in a wall collision during a game against the Angels on May 17th. While the Rangers have shown a remarkable ability to win games without Hamilton in the lineup, his loss may finally be beginning to take its toll on the Rangers' offense.

The Rangers scored 65 runs the first 12 games of May with Hamilton in the lineup, compared to just 39 runs the first 12 games of June.

On top of that, the Rangers' batting average for June is down to .223—on pace to match the franchise's lowest June average since 1967 of .218, when the Rangers were still the Washington Senators. While some of the lower output can be blamed on a tough June schedule, its hard to imagine that Hamilton’s loss isn't also factoring into the hitting slump.

Just as troubling for the Rangers have been the injuries of starting pitchers Matt Harrison, Brandon McCarthy, and closer Frank Francisco. McCarthy, who will be out several more weeks with a shoulder stress fracture, was quickly becoming a major asset to the Rangers with his 5-2 record and 4.92 ERA. Harrison, while not as impressive, was pitching solidly with a 4-4 record and 5.43 ERA. Francisco, meanwhile had been a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities with a 0.46 ERA.

The loss of the two starters forced the emergency start of Triple-A pitcher Doug Mathis, and forced the Rangers to once again move rookie Derek Holland back into a starting role.

The results were two disastrous pitching starts (and losses) over the past week against the Blue Jays and the Dodgers. Mathis allowed five runs over five innings in a 9-0 rout by the Blue Jays June 9. Holland, meanwhile, allowed four runs in five innings in the Rangers 6-3 loss to the Dodgers on June 14.

Unfortunately, the Rangers' injury woes may continue for a several more weeks.

While Harrison is due back this week to pitch against the Astros, Hamilton and McCarthy may both be out until after the All-Star break. However, there is a ray of hope for the Rangers—the next month offers an easier schedule with several series against sub .500 teams such as Arizona, Houston, and Seattle.