ARLINGTON –There wasn’t much for Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington to say to reporters on Saturday afternoon regarding his team’s offense.
For Washington, the answer to what’s been ailing his maligned offense is simple. Washington repeated the answer as if to reiterate that the simplicity of the solution is what makes Texas’ offensive struggles so complex.
“You just need a base hit,” Washington said. “I think I’ve been saying that for almost two weeks.
“A base hit. It’s what it takes.”
The Rangers spoiled a stellar outing from starting pitcher Yu Darvish and may have spoiled their chances of claiming the American League West Division title. The Oakland Athletics extended their divisional lead over the Rangers and extended Texas’ losing streak with a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Oakland now holds a 5 1/2 game lead over Texas for the division lead. Prior to Saturday night’s games, the Rangers held a two-game lead over Cleveland for one of the AL’s two wild card spots.
The Rangers (81-67) lost their fifth straight game and 11th of their last 14 games.
For the fourth time this season, the Rangers lost with a final score of 1-0 when Darvish was pitching on the mound.
Darvish (12-9) becomes the third AL pitcher since 1916 to lose four starts in a single season by that scoring margin. The other two pitchers to hold that distinction are Walter Johnson and Billy Pierce.
When asked by his interpreter about how frustrated he was by the offense’s lack of run production, the Japanese pitcher let off a slight laugh after he responded.
“My frustration level is zero,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “That’s baseball. It is what it is.”
Oakland (87-61) scored the only run of the game in the first inning when A’s left fielder Brandon Moss lined a double down the left-field line to drive in third baseman Josh Donaldson, the only batter Darvish walked in seven innings of work.
Darvish threw 45 pitches threw the first two innings, but settled down to strike out 10 batters. The effort was rendered void because of the team’s offensive struggles.
“We haven’t executed whenever we’ve had a chance or an opportunity,” Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “Yu threw a terrific game today, and as an offense, we weren’t able to put some runs on the board.”
Darvish and Oakland starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (16-6) entered the contest second and third, respectively, in earned run average in the AL.
In the fifth inning, Andrus was facing Colon and the pitch count was full. Andrus thought the next pitch was called a ball and took a few steps toward first base before his knees buckled when home plate umpire Joe West called Andrus out on strikes to end the inning.
Andrus stood at the plate for a few moments before he walked toward his position on the field, shaking his head and with his hands on his hips. David Murphy ended the game in similar fashion when he came in as a pinch hitter with a runner on second base and two outs in the ninth. Murphy also protested the game’s final out before he and the rest of the Rangers left the field.
Now the Rangers can only hope to salvage the final game of the series when the two teams face each other for the final time this regular season on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. When Washington addressed the media following Saturday’s loss, he spoke as a manager who was out of magic words to help coax the offense into productivity during the final stretch of the playoff race.
“I’ve told them everything I can tell them,” Washington said. “You just have to go out there and some situations, when they present themselves, get it done. Because it’s not getting it done.”