SEATTLE – Sure, the Rangers avoided a series sweep to the cellar-dwelling Mariners with their 3-2 victory Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field. They can fly home happy and carry at least a bit of momentum heading into a crucial four-game set against Oakland.
But if this club expects to wrap up the AL West this week, it better start capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
Playing without slugger Josh Hamilton, who has missed the past five games with vision and balance problems, the Rangers finished the Seattle series a disappointing 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position. Sunday’s 0-for-10 effort with RISP capped off a dismal offensive performance this weekend.
Yet following the win Sunday, manager Ron Washington did not seem all that concerned with his team’s inability to push across runs.
“I’d rather keep leaving guys out on the bags than not getting them out there because with this team, we’ll get them in,” Washington said.
The skipper gave credit to the Seattle pitchers, who held Texas to just six runs in three games. He also said his team might be trying to do “too much” at the plate.
Asked what “too much” meant, left fielder David Murphy said that sometimes batters can get greedy when the whole team is in an offensive rut and be dissatisfied with trading an out for execution. When the whole offense is struggling, a player may think that he needs to do more than just move runners or lay down a sacrifice bunt.
“Maybe it’s just getting past simple things in baseball,” said Murphy, who singled twice Sunday. “Like when you have a runner on second with nobody out, all you need to do is hit a ground ball to move the runner to third. No reason to think you need drive him in.”
But the Rangers have already had their share of similar struggles at the plate this season, so it’s nothing new to them now.
“These struggles are part of the season,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “We’ve just got to keep swinging and make adjustments.”
“This is a team that makes adjustments pretty well,” added Murphy. “I’m confident that we’ll turn that part of our game around.”
With a huge series against the A’s less than 24 hours away, perhaps the Rangers will return to their timely offensive ways again.
“I think going home and playing in a big series for the next few days is going to make everybody bring their A game,” Murphy said. “We’ll be ready to play.”