It's a combination of everything that's causing this struggling week from the Rangers: injuries, bad decisions defensively, lack of situational hitting, an inability to get the big hit, some pitching mistakes and some strange choices on the basepaths.
But even with a depleted lineup, this Rangers squad should be able to score some runs. Nothing against Brian Matusz, who is considered a good young pitcher who is progressing, but it's stunning that the Rangers were shutout for 8 innings by a guy with four wins and an ERA over 5.00.
Still, I disagree with those hitting the panic button. This club has some players called up from the minors who have been thrust into the middle of a pennant race. Sometimes there's an adjustment period there. But Brandon Boggs sure seemed to take a long route to that fly ball hit last night in the seventh that should have been caught. And in a 0-0 in the sixth, Andres Blanco needs to be standing at second base with no outs to give his team a chance to put a run on the board and take the lead.
But let's get back to that offense thing. I think it's interesting to compare what this team was doing before the All-Star break and what they are doing now. A quick look (thanks to ESPN Stats & Information):
Before the All-Star break: Texas averaged 5.1 runs per game, hit .278 and had 0.6 errors per game. They were 50-38 (.568 winning percentage).
Since the All-Star break: Texas has averaged 4.3 runs per game, is hitting .264 and has 0.8 errors per game. They are 17-15 (.531 winning percentage).
So this club is scoring nearly one run fewer per game and hitting 14 points lower since the second half began. They've also had more defensive issues (the zone fielding and other numbers aren't as good either).
Of course, this can be turned around. They've had some tough weeks at various points this year with the bats. All teams do. And when the injured players return, it will obviously be a boost. In the meantime, playoff contending teams figure out a way to win despite key losses during stretches of the season. The Rangers must do that now. They need reserve players to step up and make smart decisions. They've gotten a break in that the Angels and A's haven't gone on any long winning streak in the last week or two. But those teams could close the gap quickly if the Rangers don't start hitting. We'll see if they can get going tonight.