Rangers bats need to get it going

OAKLAND, Calif. -- There's certainly plenty of blame to go around for the Rangers' 4-8 mark in their last 12 games. They were in first place by four games after taking two of three in Anaheim and appeared poised to get the AL West wrapped up early (for a third straight year) and be able to rest some regulars.

But unsteady play in nearly all facets has led to the club losing that four-game lead -- a lead that still held Friday morning before losing four of the last five. The most noticeable issue, however, is the Rangers offense. Where has it gone?

In the past 12 games, Texas is hitting just .248 as a team. They have scored 3.8 runs per game, well below their 4.98 average. The team has as many caught stealings -- three -- as stolen bases. They've hit 15 home runs but have hit into 11 ground-ball double plays.

The Rangers are hitting .202 with runners in scoring position in the past 12 games. And that number includes a 6-for-11 performance in a game last week.

But all of the fault for the club's slip the last few weeks can't be shouldered by the offense alone. The starting pitching has been inconsistent. As a starting staff, they are 3-6 with a 6.02 ERA in the last 12 games. Opponents are batting a stout .315. Those starters have 56 strikeouts, but 23 walks.

Still, Matt Harrison went out and pitched a quality start Tuesday and got beat. He wasn't as sharp as he's been, but if the club is hitting the ball even close to their season average, he probably wins that game. Martin Perez battled back after a rough first inning and got into the fifth inning with the Rangers still in it, but lost.

If the Rangers are to win the AL West today, they need their bats to give Ryan Dempster run support. And the earlier, the better.