Wash delivers message to slumping team

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' sixth consecutive defeat, a familiar 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, in which the offense again did next to nothing, brought with it a short postgame players' meeting with manager Ron Washington.

The Rangers, who face an important four-game series against Oakland -- the A's will take a three-game division lead into Monday night -- are out of time as far as ending their worst skid since 2010.

"I thought that they needed to hear from the manager," Washington said. "That was it."

Washington didn't reveal his message.

"I spoke to them," Washington said. "And the message is nobody's business in this room, and I don't mean to be disrespectful."

The general message was to stay positive and keep playing hard. Six-game losing streaks in a 162-game season don't ruin things. The last time the Rangers lost six straight games came in April 2010. They went on to make their first World Series.

"We all have to stay positive," said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who is slumping as much as any Rangers hitter. "We need to start playing well. We haven't been doing the little things. We have to play hard. He wants to see everyone on the field playing hard."

Was it a message the players needed to hear?

Andrus said yes.

"Especially from him," Andrus said. "He always has our back, and we've always got his, too. It's meant for us to go out there and start executing."

And that starts with hitting with runners in scoring position. The Rangers were 1-for-8 and left 11 men on base against Chien-Ming Wang, who was making his second start of the season and whose last win came a year ago.

The Rangers again couldn't produce a clutch hit. Down 2-0 in the second inning after Derek Holland allowed a two-run home run to J.P. Arencibia, Nelson Cruz walked and David Murphy singled with two outs. Chris McGuiness struck out to end the threat.

There was also bad luck. Trailing 3-0 after Colby Rasmus' third home run of the series in the top of the fourth, the Rangers had runners at first and third with one out in the bottom of the inning. Cruz hit a rocket to third base and Edwin Encarnacion made a spectacular snare of the line drive to thwart another Texas threat.

And that's where the Rangers offense is now. They are 4-for-34 with runners in scoring position during the losing streak. They had two singles in those situations against the Jays, one an infield hit by Andrus in a two-run ninth-inning uprising.

So what now?

The postgame talk was of sticking together. Not getting down. This happens in baseball.

What you would expect to hear in a baseball clubhouse.

"We have to find a way to fight through it," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.

Maybe the A's coming to town will spark something.

"We hate the A's," Holland said. "They hate us."

Washington, who was clearly fired up on the podium during his postgame news conference, might have revealed a little of what he said to his team when asked what needs to be done to end a dismal stretch of baseball.

"You go out and keep playing," Washington said. "That team up in there has proven how mentally tough they are. Yes, we've lost six in a row. We're not the first team to lose six in a row, and we probably won't be the last in the rest of the history of baseball to lose six in a row. But we're challenged. And I feel like mentally we're tough enough to make it through the challenge.

"We will make it through the challenge," Washington said. "We just have to keep fighting. That's what we have to do."