Walking Around in Circles

In the end, the Rangers never really stood a chance. Regardless of the lineup placed on the field in the series opener in Boston, the continued unraveling of Yu Darvish prevented the Rangers from ever having any real chance at winning the game. It's become more than an enigma at this point: We all know Darvish is immensly talented, and yet the results have become increasingly frustrating.

Once again, Darvish made it through two innings mostly unscathed, yet once the third inning arrived and he got back to the top of the order, the opposition began to patiently hammer away, and Darvish finished the night having pitched 6.2 innings, giving up 6 earned runs on 11 hits with 9 strikeouts and 4 walks. His continued over-reliance on his slider as opposed to the fastball eventually allowed hitters to just wait for a walk or a good pitch to hit. When a team hits 7 doubles on you, it's definitely time to re-evaluate the approach that got you to this point, but one would be inclined to think we had already passed that point in the season, and yet, here we are. For reference, the Darvish pitch statistics and strikezone plot:

With that, I'm not sure there's too much left to be said about Darvish other than, until he masters command of and gains confidence in his fastball, he's going to be very hit or miss instead of the reliable rotation piece the Rangers will need should they play into October.

Beyond Darvish, the Rangers didn't stand a chance anyways, as Ron Washington put one of the most dubious lineups on the field that I can really recall. A day after criticizing a failed squeeze bunt attempt by Elvis Andrus (a criticism I couldn't really understand in that the pitch was unreachable), Andrus was out of the linup with a sore shoulder. Instead of starting Alberto Gonzalez at shortstop, Washintgon instead elected to go with Michael Young, putting him in a position he hadn't played full-time since 2008. Instead of using a guy who is on the team for this very purpose, Washington found a way to keep the one guy in the lineup that should have probably been benched a month ago. His reasoning? He wanted to keep Young in the lineup after he had gone 9 for 27 in his previous 6 games. All this despite the fact that he kept Ian Kinsler out of the lineup on Sunday, effectively killing any positive momentum Kinsler had built as he looked lost at the plate in Boston on Monday.

Less than a week after saying recent call-up Mike Olt would be receiving regular playing time, Washington elected to use Geovanny Soto at DH, keeping Mike Napoli in the game to catch. So, to recap, Washington decided to use his DH at shortstop and his backup catcher at DH. All the while, he left the likes of Alberto Gonzalez, Mike Olt, and Craig Gentry on the bench.

Gentry has been riding the bench for the better part of a week, only being utilized in certain situations. For all my criticism about how I don't believe Gentry is the long-term answer in center field and I still don't think he is), he's posted an .821 OPS on the season. He may not be flashy, but at the very least, he's managed to get on base this season, something any team would be lucky to have.

I guess what it comes down to is this: It's Ron Washington's team and he can certainly do what he wants and play who he wants, but I have a hard time understanding what has transpired in the last 24-plus hours, as he put one of his more confusing lineups on the field after aggresively criticizing Andrus (who is quite possibly having the best season of any full-time player on the Rangers roster) to the media. How he continually succumbs to the notion that Michael Young is on the verge of turning his season around while publicly ignoring the positive contributions coming from other members of the team is, at best, disturbing. At worst, it's laying the foundation for organizational unrest, and that's something this club doesn't really need righ tnow.