Indians 11, Rangers 8 was quite possibly the most frustrating loss of the season. Before 11-8 became the final score, the game was tied at 8 apiece, and the Rangers put themselves down 7-1 before that due to a defense that, at one point, looked more like a production of the Bad News Bears rather than a Major Leage Baseball club.
Despite 3 errors, despite the wild pitches, and even overcoming yet another mistake on the base paths, the Rangers found themselves right back in the game. One could even argue that this was a win this team should have had, and it's not even debatable that they needed to win.
The extra-inning woes continue to haunt this team, and while for at least one night, the offense looked once again like a force to be reckoned with, it was Jason Frasor pitching in relief that eventually cracked and gave up the 3-run walk-off home run. For Frasor's part, he was put in a no-win situation by a manager that has long been dubbed as being great in the clubhouse and having a great feel for his ballclub. Yet it was Washington's lack of feel that eventually led to the Rangers barely missing out on the best worst win of the season.
Frasor, in 10 season, had never pitched 3 innings, and yet there he was, left to fend for himself as he put two men on base and was handcuffed by a potential bunt situation, forcing him to throw something over the plate.
According to Ron Washington, Tanner Scheppers, who had only thrown 4 pitches in the previous 3 days, was unavailable. Neal Cotts and Joe Nathan, however, were, according to the Rangers manager, both available. Yet, when it came down to it, neither pitcher was so much as tossing in the bullpen in the all-too-likely event that Frasor would be unable to complete a third full inning of relief.
With Yu Darvish headed to the mound today, one has to wonder what exactly Washington was saving his bullpen for, and why he seemingly threw away a game in the name of "getting the next one". The worst part, of course, is that Oakland won yet another game on a day the Rangers lost, putting them 4 back in the AL West for the first time since before the franchise had ever smelled a single playoff series win.
While I'm not a big fan of publicly calling for the firing of someone, if the Rangers miss the postseason altogether and fail to turn this thing around, doesn't it at least merit a conversation after last night? Much like earlier in the week when I pointed out that umpires aren't intended to directly impact the outcome of a game, the manager is also in the same situation.
In baseball, the manager is supposed to have the pulse of his club, put them in the best situation to win, and make decisions that are in the best interest of winning, both in the short-term and long-term. Last night, Washington may have crippled both, with no real reason for why the bullpen was saved and yet another game given away.
They'll play another one today, and I like the chances with Yu Darvish on the mound, but each and every day the Rangers don't close the gap between themselves and the Oakland A's, they're one day closer to potentially wasting another year of talent and watching things from home in October.