Extra Bases: Rangers aren't pressing
Are the Rangers, specifically the hitters, pressing?
"I haven't sensed anything different," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We're just going out and trying to play. We're running into some teams that are playing pretty well right now."
In the defense of anyone who believes they are pressing, the Rangers did bang out seven hits in the final two innings and had the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings. That doesn't look like a team pressing at the plate.
Jeff Baker and Adrian Beltre both struck out to end rallies, preventing the Rangers from making an improbable rally. Texas has gone 11 straight games scoring five runs or less. That hasn't been a worry the way the starting pitching has been for the Rangers, but that has started cracking in this final month.
It's difficult to point to any specific players that might be pressing. Beltre has two hits in last 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but he had two hits, including an RBI single on Tuesday night. Beltre's not "pressing."
The Rangers did have 13 hits. It's not like they went quietly into the night with weak ground balls to second base.
Pierzynski, a 15-year veteran who has been a part of a team that won a World Series in 2005 after a seven-game losing steak in August cut the White Sox lead in half in the division race, was asked what he's seeing.
"I can't speak for anyone else," Pierzynski said. "I can only speak for myself. I know I go about it the same every day. There's no change for me. There's no change in anything I do."
THE PLAYOFF RACE: The Rangers remained two games behind Oakland, who lost to Minnesota 4-3. Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cleveland all lost as the Rangers remained 2 1/2 games ahead of the Rays for the first wild card spot and four games ahead of the Orioles and Indians for the second and last one.
Is it important for the Rangers to keep their focus on the division race and not worry about the five teams chasing them in the wild card race?
"Our focus is on the Pittsburgh Pirates," manager Ron Washington said. "We're not thinking about Oakland. Our club thinks about Oakland on off days. We're thinking about the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not what's going on ahead of us or behind us."
WHAT'S UP NOW: Rapid reaction from Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Pirates. Plus, a post-game blog on the Rangers and where exactly their morale is after losing eight of 11 games.
ON DECK: The Rangers will try to avoid a sweep with right-hander Matt Garza (3-3, 4.31 for Texas) facing Pirates righty A.J. Burnett (7-10, 3.31) at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
QUESTION OF THE MORNING: Will Garza bounce back after allowing four earned runs or more in six of seven starts?
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.