ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers’ free fall from the top of the AL West to an early exit from the 2012 postseason took less than two weeks.
It was a stunning collapse that ended with general manger Jon Daniels hugging players in the clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night and teammates saying goodbye to each other.
This was not how the season was supposed to end for the two-time defending AL champions. They led the AL West by five games with nine to play after beating Oakland on Sept. 24. Now, less than two weeks later, they watched their lead in the AL West evaporate on the final day as the Oakland A’s celebrated. And then, despite having the lifeline of a winner-take-all AL wild-card game against a team they dominated in the regular season, the offense had no energy and they wasted a sterling performance by Yu Darvish in a 5-1, season-ending loss.
It’s amazing to consider that the Rangers never had a champagne-crazed celebration in a clubhouse. They toasted the fact that they made the playoffs last weekend, but figured they’d break out the big party for the division title. That never came. Neither did a wild-card win. Former Rangers manager Buck Showalter and his team – many of them former Rangers – turned up the music and dumped beer on each other in the visiting clubhouse in Arlington and will now move on to face the New York Yankees. For the Rangers, a season with so much promise is over way earlier than expected.
“I’m very surprised,” veteran leader Michael Young said. “It was a very disappointing finish. We felt like we had the team and we had the guys to make another run at it. That doesn’t really come down to tonight’s game. It comes down to the last week and a half. We had an opportunity to put our best foot forward and set ourselves up for a strong run. We didn’t get it done.”
Texas lost eight of its final 10 games and 10 of the last 14.
On Friday, the Orioles did what the A’s managed to accomplish in a three-game sweep of the Rangers: They took advantage of their scoring chances. The Rangers didn’t. So almost before the playoffs really started, the Rangers were out.
“I’m going to be watching teams on TV next week and I know we’re good enough to be where those guys are and we didn’t get it done,” David Murphy said. “For that, we don’t deserve to be there, and that’s frustrating. I know what type of personnel we have in here. I know what type of talent we have. I know the quality of guys we have. That makes it frustrating.”
Players were stunned as they gathered their things and talked to one another. All those plans for another long postseason stay are over.
Closer Joe Nathan and others vowed to let it motivate them.
“It won’t be hard to get up in the morning and go there (to the gym) for sure,” Nathan said. “These things fire you up and want you to get it going.”