Texas Rangers' Week Eleven Review: Offense Slumping, West Lead Shrinking

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IJune 22, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 06:  Pitcher Kevin Millwood #33 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Cleveland Indians during the home opener on April 6, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

After their difficult two week stretch in which the Rangers played four potential playoff teams, it looked as though the team would get a little bit of a break against two middle of the road teams in Houston and San Francisco.

However, with a 2-4 week that included being swept out of San Francisco and with the Angels continuing on their hot streak, the Rangers' lead in the AL West is only a half game.

The week started off great with two wins over the Astros and wrapping up the Silver Boot in the Lone Star Series again, but after blowing the third game, everything has gone wrong this week, especially the offense.

The Rangers are 7-11 for the month of June so far and in those 18 games, the team has only scored 59 times, that's 3.3 runs per game. 

The biggest problem has been simply getting hits. Texas has only 129 hits in the month (7.2 hits per game) and twice already have pitchers had no-hit bids through at least six innings,  Jon Lester (BOS) 6.1 innings and Barry Zito (SF) 6 innings.

Ranger hitters have recorded 592 at-bats in the month, giving the team a .218 team batting average so far in the month. How many thought that was going to happen?

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: W, 6-1 (36-27)

The Rangers got yet another solid outing from their ace Kevin Millwood as he went seven innings, allowing only one run on four hits and striking out six. His one run that he allowed was to former Ranger great Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.

Houston's starter Wandy Rodriguez has had periods of some spectular pitching this season, however this would not be one of those games as he would not see the fifth inning.

Ian Kinsler provided the bulk of the Rangers bang with solo home runs in the first and second innings, his 16th and 17th of the season.

Wednesday: W, 5-4 (10)(37-27)

The night started off with Pudge receiving a standing ovation from the Ranger fans as he set the new record for career games behind the plate at 2,227. Pudge broke the record that was held by long-time Red Sox great Carlton Fisk.

However that would not be the only bit of history made this night.

Later in the game Omar Vizquel tied Luis Aparicio's for the most hits in a career by a native of Venezuela. Vizquel recorded his 2,677th career hit with a fifth inning single to tie the Hall of Famer.

The game ended in the tenth inning with a walk-off single from David Murphy, giving the Rangers their fifth win in as many games this season against the Astros.

Thursday: L, 3-5 (37-28)

The night started off great with the Rangers scoring three runs in four innings and booting Astro's starter Brandon Backe before the fifth inning. The Texas offense was highlighted by solo home runs from Michael Young (9th) and Chris Davis (13th), however that would be all the offense could do.

The Astros bullpen pitched five scoreless innings and allowed only three hits. During that time, Rangers' starter Vicente Padilla began to fade and the bullpen had no relief as the Astros scored five times from the fifth inning on.

With the loss, the Rangers couldn't close out the season sweep of the Astros. If the Rangers had accomplished this, it would have been the first time it happened either way.

Friday: L, 4-6 (37-29)

Scott Feldman took the mound against the recent addition to the 300 win club, Randy Johnson. However for the Rangers, Feldman did not have his best stuff and allowed five runs in six innings on eight hits and two long balls.

The Rangers finally got on the board with a Michael Young solo shot in the fourth and then a three-run sixth inning that took the lead. The inning was highlighted by Marlon Byrd's two-out, two-RBI double to put the Rangers in front.

After that the Giants bullpen only allowed two hits over the last 3.1 innings, the Rangers could not come back twice.

Saturday: L, 1-2 (11) (37-30)

This game would turn out to be one of the most frustrating losses of the season for the 2009 Texas Rangers.

Derek Holland took the mound for the Rangers, as did Matt Cain for the Giants. Cain was 9-1 coming into the game and Holland was 0-3 in his starts. However, in this game, Holland would match Cain step for step.

Holland had, by far, his best career start as he threw 95 pitches in seven innings, only giving up a solo home run to Aaron Rowand. Holland allowed a total of four hits, walked only one, and struckout five. Cain went eight innings allowing only three hits, one run, and struckout eight. His one run came off Ian Kinsler, his 18th home run off the season in the sixth inning.

Neither team could get any more runners across the plate until the bottom of the 11th inning when pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz scored on a wild pitch from reliever Jason Jennings.

Sunday: L, 2-3 (37-31)

Looking to avoid being swept in San Francisco, the Rangers had their ace Millwood on the mound again facing Barry Zito.

In the third straight well pitched game in this series, Millwood went seven innings giving up only three runs (two earned) on eight hits and struckout a season-high ten batters.  But he was outdone by Zito who went seven innings before even allowing a hit. After that first hit in the seventh by Young, Andruw Jones broke-up the shutout as well with a two-run, game-tying home run down the left field line.

The Giants took the lead back in the bottom of the seventh with Rowand scoring for the second time in the game and again the Giants bullpen would shut the Rangers down for the finally two innings.

The Rangers now get a much needed break with Monday being another off day as they travel to Arizona for a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. After that they team returns home for a home-stand that starts with three games against the San Diego Padres.

With the Rangers struggling, as the team has now had back-to-back 2-4 weeks, and the Angels have been one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Angles are closing in on Texas.

The Angels are now 36-31 and only a half game back on the Rangers. The Mariners continue to lurk close by at 35-34 and only 2.5 games back of the lead. And finally, the Athletics have fallen back to seven games back at 30-38.