ARLINGTON, Texas — That record offseason spending spree by the Texas Rangers was a long-term investment. Still, they certainly expected some better early returns.
After losing 102 games last season, then committing more than a half-billion dollars in free agency, the Rangers have dropped their opening three series for the first time since 2003. After consecutive five-run losses at home to the Los Angeles Angels, Texas went into its off day Monday with a 2-7 record that was the worst in the American League.
“Just we’re not playing well,” manager Chris Woodward said bluntly. “We’ve got to fix it. We’ve got to play better if we expect to compete and win Major League Baseball games. We’re not doing really anything well right now. … I felt like early on we were playing OK, we were just a couple of, maybe a pitch or a swing away every game.”
The Rangers are one of the highest-scoring teams in the majors at nearly 5 1/2 runs a game, except 22 of their 49 total runs came in their two wins. There was also that season opener, when Texas led 7-0 in the fourth inning before losing 10-8 at Toronto.
While losing three of four games in their series against Los Angeles, the only win for the Rangers was 10-5 in the opener when they scored six runs in 3 2/3 innings facing reigning AL MVP and two-way standout Shohei Ohtani.
Two starting pitchers are on the injured list with blisters, including new No. 1 starter Jon Gray after the opener. Only once has a Texas starter made it through five innings, so the inconsistent bullpen has already been extremely busy. The staff’s 6.19 ERA is the highest in the majors, and opponents have hit a league-high 18 homers.
“We’ll probably go through stretches like this again. It just started like this,” new second baseman Marcus Semien said. “I’ve been a part of good starts and bad starts. There’s ups and downs, and now we’ve started with a down. It’s not for a lack of effort.”
The Rangers offense has basically shut down after the midpoint of games. They have scored only two runs total after the fifth inning in their seven losses. Texas is hitting .307 with 44 runs through the first five innings of all games, and .132 with five runs from the sixth inning on.
Corey Seager, who got a $325 million, 10-year contract, had his first day off Sunday. The shortstop is hitting .294 (10 for 34) with one homer and seven RBIs, though he was also robbed of a three-run shot in a 4-1 loss to Colorado last week.
Woodward has said Semien ($175 million, seven years) wasn’t feeling well the first week. The second baseman is hitting .128 (5 for 39) without a homer after going deep 45 times last season with the Blue Jays. He has two RBIs and eight strikeouts.
Versatile infielder/outfielder Brad Miller, added on a two-year deal during spring training, has two homers but has missed the last two games with back tightness. Outfielder Kole Calhoun is hitting .174 and hasn’t yet driven in a run.
Gray ($56 million, four years) allowed three runs over four innings in his only start. The right-hander is expected to be activated from injured list and start the series opener at Seattle on Tuesday night.
When asked his theory about the team’s struggles and how to change them, Woodward responded that he’s not a philosopher.
“I think we just need to all look at each other and we need to stay together. That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “It’s not, you know, the end of the world, (but) 2-7 is not what we expected to come out of the gates. I think it’s just going to challenge our group, challenge the togetherness in that clubhouse and the character I believe in.”
MISSING THE BLUES
Instead of the power blue jerseys the Rangers usually wear for Sunday home games, they wore white ones in the series finale against the Angels. The team said the production of the power blues have been delayed due to supply chain issues. The team also hasn’t received its royal blue or red alternate jerseys from Nike, which manufactures the tops.