The Rangers Are 5-9

Well, this one was fun... If you're the kind of person that enjoys holding your hand over a hot flame.

  • Yu Darvish got the start today, and for five innings, things looked great. Yu got through all five frames with no Oakland A's crossing the plate. To that point, he only allowed a single, which was quickly erased with an inning-ending double play in the third inning.
  • Then, in the sixth inning, things got weird. In the top half of the inning, Jurickson Profar reached on an error, stole second, and was then driven in by Elvis Andrus. Elvis promptly stole second, then third, and on a Nomar Mazara grounder, broke for home and slide into the plate before the tag. Just like that, it was 2-0, although the offense to that point hadn't exactly looked potent.
  • In the bottom half, Darvish started off with a walk to Trevor Plouffe. After Bruce Maxwell lined out to left field, Adam Rosales hit a game-tying home run to left field. It was only the beginning of a sequence that further saw Darvish give up a double and a walk. At that point, Jeff Banister had seen enough and lifted his ace from the game at only 82 pitches.
  • I'd probably have liked to have seen Darvish have the opportunity to work out of his own jam, especially given the options Banister limited himself to at that point in the game. If command issues were the reason for lifting the team's best pitcher in the sixth inning at only 82 pitches -- and there's every reason to believe that's the case -- then it was questionable, at best, to have Tony Barnette and Dario Alvarez as the first two guys out of the bullpen.
  • Coming into the night, Barnette had pitched 5.1 innings, and he wasn't exactly inducing soft contact (5.3% versus 17.5% in 2016). Insert your normal qualifier about small samples and all of that, but given how things have transpired thus far, and with Alvarez clearly being a lefty specialist at this point, I figure that in a tie game with men on, you'd like to use one of your better pitchers to hold the score as is.
  • It wasn't to be, as Barnette and Alvarez each gave up a run, but since both were inherited runners, they were charged to Darvish's ledger on the night, making it a 4-2 Oakland advantage.
  • One more point on Darvish. Evan Grant indicated on Twitter that the coaching staff -- in this case manager Jeff Banister and pitching coach Doug Brocail -- may have been attempting to send a message to Darvish in yanking him about attacking hitters. If that's truly the case, it's disturbing to me. As I've mentioned before, the "rah rah" antics and the fiery passion are great, but I'm not sure what good they do if they risk alienating the team's best pitcher in April. Maybe there's more to this, but if that's all it is, I can't say I understand it.
  • As it stands, the Rangers scored no more than the two runs, and if you're looking for somewhere to place the blame, there's plenty to go around. The offense wasn't good tonight, with the offense only mustering three hits on the night.
  • It's worth noting that Jonathan Lucroy hasn't been very good at the plate so far in 2017. Yes, his BABIP is low at .189, but his wRC+ also sits at 31. That's 69 percent below league average, offensively, and the Rangers simply need him to be better going forward. No, Mike Napoli hasn't been good, and Carlos Gomez has shown only minor flashes of brilliance, but Lucroy is a guy that only recently had been talked about as someone the Rangers should perhaps extend long-term. I expect that he'll turn it around at some point, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
  • At this point, it's still pretty early in the season, but it's becoming clear that unless Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels are virtually perfect -- or someone like A.J. Griffin occasionally steps up like last night -- the bullpen is going to make things a little dicey if the lead is five runs or less. Perhaps things can be shored up, but for now, that's the way things will go. We're probably in store for a bumpy ride in the late innings of a lot of close -- and some not so close -- games.
  • Quick turnaround for a day game tomorrow at 2:35, so I expect we'll see Robinson Chirinos behind the plate. Martin Perez will take the mound for Texas.