The Rangers didn't swing the bats well on Wednesday as A’s starter Jesse Chavez held everybody but Prince Fielder without a hit for the first seven innings. That single came in the first inning, and it was just the second hit of this series for Fielder. Texas certainly couldn’t play defense, managing two throwing errors on the same play and two errors in the same inning by a struggling Elvis Andrus. He aptly described them as “little league” mistakes. And they didn’t pitch particularly well either, as Robbie Ross just kept throwing fastballs but didn’t appear to change speeds much. The A’s, as you might expect, got a quick feel for Ross’ fastball, and when he made a mistake, they punished him for it.
In fairness to Ross, grading him on Wednesday is difficult given the defense behind him. But by the time the evening was over, the A’s had scored a touchdown complete with extra point in the third inning and added five more runs the rest of the game to win 12-1.
They completed a sweep of the Rangers with a combined score of 25-4 in the three games, which on paper should have been close. They weren’t.
Wednesday’s discombobulated effort left manager Ron Washington with a dilemma: call an early-season meeting despite a record above .500 and a sweep of the A’s just last week or let his team use Thursday’s off day to mentally bury the series forever.
The skipper, who reads a clubhouse with the best of them, chose the latter.
“They beat us,” Washington said. “They beat us soundly. Right now I’m thinking about Anaheim. We didn’t play well enough to win. You don’t play well enough to win, you’ve just got to keep going. We’ll get back to where we were, but [Wednesday] we just didn’t do it.”
Andrus in particular seemed off. He has just one hit in his last 28 at-bats and has seen his average go from over .300 to .229. He doesn’t think that frustration carried over into the field, but he watched a tailor-made double play ball go under his glove and between his legs in the third, moments after he had a throwing error. He came out in the sixth inning, watching the rest of the game from the dugout as Washington wanted to give him a break more than send any kind of message.
“That was one of those days you just want to get over,” said Andrus, who has seven errors, half of his total from last season (14 in all of 2013). “That was not a fun game. Nothing else you can do but turn the page, clear my mind, learn from it and be ready for the next series.”
Andrus might as well have been speaking for the team. Many of the players talked about moving on and refocusing for the Angels this weekend.
It seems like since that Kyle Seager three-run home run on Sunday, which turned what appeared to be a sure victory into the start of a four-game losing streak, the Rangers have been out of sorts. Oakland outplayed Texas in all areas. They got quality innings from their starters -– 21 of the 27 contested -– and timely hits. Their defense was solid as well. Texas got just 11 1/3 innings from a trio of starters, including the top two in Yu Darvish and Martin Perez. The bats seemed to lose all power in the series, hitting just two extra-base hits and no home runs. Texas was 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t really put any kind of pressure on the A’s.
“I don’t think anybody wants to remember that one,” Mitch Moreland said. “It didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but it’s a long season. We’ll start off with a fresh month when we get to Anaheim and have another good one. I don’t think that series kills us. It definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, but we’ll play them again. We have to keep going and keep grinding.”
The scuffling play to finish the month obscures the fact that the Rangers did what they wanted to do with all of their injuries: hang around. They are three games back of Oakland now and a half-game up on the Angels, who host Texas for three games starting Friday.
The Rangers might not have any momentum at the moment, but they played well enough to stay in the middle of a tight race early in the season.
Now, they’ve got to find a way to mentally move on and focus on getting the bats going a little more consistently.
“I think if we can get healthy and stay healthy, that would help us,” Moreland said. “We’ve had bits and pieces here and there and we need to have everyone play together. I think if we keep grinding and sticking with our approach, we’ll get to where we need to be.”