It could have been better, but if we're being honest, it could have been a lot worse. You never like losing to the Astros, even if you still win the series. You definitely don't like losing a series to the Mariners, salvaging only the Independence Day game. A series win against Cincinnatti was the bright spot during the homestand, and the Rangers can at least boast an ability to compete against the best teams in baseball, but failing to pounce on teams they should be is nonetheless frustrating. Fortunately, one Nelson Cruz was able to virtually single-handedly power the team to a series win against Houston. Today, it was the clutch RBI single. On Friday, it was the grand slam depicted below:
If it wasn't Cruz, Adrian Beltre was chipping in, raising his triple-slash line on the season to .309/.351/.519 for an OPS of .870. After starting the season on a streak of what, at the time, I deemed as bad luck, Beltre has managed to become one of the most consistent hitters on the team along with Leonys Martin. Lance Berkman has been less than spectacular, so I was less than surprised to see him finally end up on the DL, because Berkman has looked gimpy for awhile now, and his last extra-base hit that wasn't a home run came on May 18 against the Detroit Tigers. That's almost two months of virtually no pop from one of the most important spots in the lineup. So how does a good team finish a homestand 5-4? Pitching.
As well as Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch started the season, their expected downturn has led to some high bullpen usage, and that high bullpen usage has seemingly caused some fatigue among the team's most reliable relievers. Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers have seemed human recently, and even Neal Cotts has had moments lately where he seemed, to say the least, gassed.
Grimm and Tepesch have been unable to pitch late into games, and even with Martin Perez being effective, Ron Washington has yet to allow him to pitch deep into games. The All-Star break is coming soon, and many of the bullpen arms could use the rest. More importantly, Joakim Soria made his debut in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Astro's, and looked as good as advertised right out of the gate. One can only hope he'll provide some much needed energy in the bullpen.
Next up, the Rangers travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles. They'll face former teammate and leading vote-getter for the All-Star game, Chris Davis. Things could be better, but they could definitely be a whole lot worse, and the fact that they aren't, I'd say that's good news for the Texas Rangers.