Defining Dozen: Wash's Cleveland team meeting
Rangers manager Ron Washington has gained a reputation for knowing exactly when his team has reached the point where it's time to call a team meeting, almost always to shake a losing streak.
His timing couldn't have been any better after a 6-0 loss at Cleveland on July 28. The Rangers had been swept in a three-game series in Cleveland for the first time since 1980. Texas had dropped eight out of 10 games since the All-Star break to plummet six games behind division-leading Oakland.
That Sunday loss in Cleveland was the third time the Rangers had been shut out in four games. Yu Darvish had lost to Justin Masterson, 1-0, on Saturday. Reliever Tanner Scheppers had been involved in an incident in a Cleveland bar before the series started.
More of a concern for Washington was the lackluster way the Rangers played in the 6-0 loss, collecting only two hits and looking listless in the field.
“It looked like we were sleep-walking,” Washington said after that Sunday game. “I’m not upset at my team. I’m just upset at the way we were playing. I’m not upset at my team because that’s my guys and I’m going to be on their ship until it sinks, if it has to, but I don’t feel it’s going to sink.
“I just thought there was a message that needed to be sent and everybody needs to be a part of it.”
Washington held court for some 40 minutes and five or six players also were said to have spoken up during the meeting.
“We had a good meeting,” left fielder David Murphy said after the game. “I think everybody is on the same page and we’re ready to get back on track.”
The Rangers responded to Washington's challenge. They went on a five-game winning streak, starting their hot stretch with three consecutive walkoff home runs for a home sweep against the rival Los Angeles Angels.
The Rangers lost a game to Oakland, then went on an eight-game winning streak to take the division lead back from the A's. The Rangers went 19-4 during a stretch from July 29 to August 23 as they built a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League West that was eventually lost in September.
Washington's Cleveland meeting didn't save the AL West for the Rangers.
But for a stretch there, the Rangers played their best baseball of the season, responding to their skipper's charge.
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