ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Losses – on the field and off it – are mounting for the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers dropped their third straight game Friday night, a 2-0 shutout to the Toronto Blue Jays that wasted an 11-strikeout, five-hit outing by Yu Darvish over eight innings. Texas managed only three singles against 23-year-old Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison, who threw his first complete major league game.
Off the field, the Rangers plan to meet Saturday with injured left-hander Martin Perez, who’s facing the prospect of Tommy John surgery. Another left-handed starter, Matt Harrison, saw his comeback from two back surgeries last year halted this week after only four starts with the diagnosis of a back condition that could end his career.
At the same time, Texas’ typically potent offense is struggling. The Rangers went into Friday’s game ranked 10th in the American League in slugging percentage and 11th in runs. They have fallen six games behind first-place Oakland in the AL West and are just as close to last-place Houston.
“It’s in the back of our heads; it’s sad to see what’s happening to our pitching staff,” Rangers right fielder Alex Rios said. “This is an offense capable of doing a lot of damage. We haven’t quite gotten there yet.”
Melky Cabrera broke up a scoreless game in the eighth inning with a two-run double to give Hutchison (2-3) all the run support that he needed. Hutchison struck out six in earning his first victory since April 1.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he isn’t getting impatient with his hitters, but is surprised they haven’t yet come around.
“Once you get close to the 100 (at-bats) mark, you figure you’ve seen enough pitches and you worked hard enough and things will fall into place,” Washington said. “But it hasn’t.”
Cabrera’s liner sailed just beyond the outstretched glove of Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland, scoring Erik Kratz and Anthony Gose.
Kratz and Gose each reached against Darvish (3-2) on infield bunts. The right-handed hitting Kratz bunted to third and beat an off-balance throw by Adrian Beltre. Gose, a left-handed hitter, drag bunted up the first-base line. Moreland’s throw to second baseman Rougned Odor covering first base wasn’t in time.
Darvish said through an interpreter that he was surprised by the first bunt but not by the second.
Darvish threw 116 pitches in his first start since throwing a one-hitter against Boston last Friday that Major League Baseball on Wednesday ruled was a two-hitter. He has thrown at least 116 pitches in four of his last five starts.
Darvish was working on six days’ rest because of a shuffling of the Rangers’ starting rotation after Perez experienced elbow pain in his start Saturday.
The first hit off Darvish came in the fifth inning, a leadoff single pulled to right field by Adam Lind.
Lack of run support is nothing new for Darvish, who said it doesn’t bother him.
“The only thing that I can concentrate on is the hitter in front of me,” he said.
Neither team got a runner beyond first base until the sixth inning – thanks in part to a successful Toronto challenge in the third inning that reversed a safe call on a steal of second base by Leonys Martin. In the bottom of the sixth, Martin walked, was bunted to second, advanced to third on a sacrifice fly. He was stranded when Elvis Andrus grounded to shortstop.
NOTES: Left-hander Robbie Ross, Texas’ Saturday starter, has allowed 23 earned runs in 26 2-3 innings over his last five starts. … Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle will bring the AL’s most wins (7) and the league’s second-best ERA (2.04) into Saturday’s start. … Andrus’ hitting streak ended at 11 games.