ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was like a virus that kept infecting the Rangers' bats the past two weeks. A team with one of the deepest lineups in baseball wasn't able to consistently get enough runs home. And it wasn't because they didn't have chances.
Time and time again, the Rangers got a runner to third with less than two outs and couldn't get him home. And opponents with less firepower in their lineups did get those runs home. Friday's 5-1 loss in the AL wild-card game was another example. In the fourth inning, with the score tied and starter Yu Darvish dealing, the Rangers got runners on the corners with one out. Mike Napoli stood at home plate needing a fly ball to give the Rangers the lead. Instead, he struck out on three pitches. Geovany Soto followed with a harmless ground ball for a force out and the inning and threat was over.
Two innings later, the Baltimore Orioles had runners on the corners and no outs and Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly to right to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run. The Orioles executed. The Rangers didn't.
"We just didn't get it done," manager Ron Washington said. "It came down to being able to execute against good pitching. It wasn't the base hits or anything like that. It was just the fundamentals. We tried and we couldn't get it done."
Players were unable to explain it, still stunned from the club's rapid fall from the top of the division to out of the playoffs in the span of 10 days. But they knew that when it mattered most, the bats didn't come through. The club seemed unable to put together enough clutch hits in key games down the stretch. They didn't have enough productive outs to move runners. They didn't do the little things needed for an offense to help win games.
"I don’t know the right way to describe it," outfielder David Murphy said. "I don’t know. At some point we just ran out of gas. We stopped playing like the Rangers. I don’t know why that is. It just happened. It’s disappointing when you don’t perform."
The offense's struggles disappointed hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who vowed to analyze every part of it this offseason and see if there are different things he can do to try to fix it.
"We created opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them," Coolbaugh said. "It wasn’t just a certain person, it was the whole team. It kind of snowballed on us from the standpoint that one guy didn't do it and the next guy couldn't get it done. It went down the line. It was very unfortunate. I couldn’t put my finger on why that transpired. It just happened. It’s frustrating as a hitting coach to know that there’s things that are happening and we weren't able to turn it around. They were all aware of the situation. It wasn’t like they were oblivious. For whatever reason, they weren’t able to execute it when we had opportunities."
Coolbaugh said part of his job is to see if there was anything else he could have done or a way or presenting the information in a better way.
"I think that’s a learning experience for a coach to stay on top of things," Coolbaugh said. "I don’t think I let it go or let it linger on. It was a discussion constantly, but there's things you look at and maybe try to attack it a different way. That’s the learning process or trying to better yourself as a coach. You look at the situation you were presented and say, 'What can I do differently?' We have to get better and that will start before spring training."