The Texas Rangers are battling for a playoff spot, but a disastrous series against a last-place team hasn’t helped their postseason chances.
The Rangers look to avoid a four-game sweep when they wrap up their series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Thursday at Tropicana Field.
The Rangers (65-63) lost their third straight on Wednesday, falling 7-3 to the Devil Rays. Tampa Bay (52-75), which is in the AL East basement and owns the second-worst record in the AL, has outscored Texas 16-9 in the first three games of this series.
“It’s not unfathomable,” said Mark Teixeira, who homered Wednesday for the Rangers. “It’s a big league team. They want to win just as much as we do, and they’ve played better than us the last three days. They can go out and beat anybody, so we just have to play better.”
The Rangers are in third place in the AL West, 7 1/2 games behind division-leading Oakland.
“It’s been real frustrating seeing as how we haven’t done anything well,” said starter Kevin Millwood, who was charged with the loss Wednesday. “You can’t pick out one facet of the game that we’ve done well.”
Jorge Cantu hit his first homer since July 29 in the fifth inning to snap an 0-for-19 slide for the Devil Rays, who had dropped 10 of 12 coming into this series. Carl Crawford also connected for Tampa Bay, which hasn’t won four in a row since May 18-21.
Robinson Tejeda (2-3, 7.62 ERA) will look to end Texas’ slide in Thursday’s series finale. He was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start Saturday, and gave up one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings to earn a 3-1 win over major league-leading Detroit.
Tejeda, who was acquired in an April 1 trade with Philadelphia, had made four starts for the Rangers in May and one in June.
“This means a lot to me,” said Tejeda, who retired his first 13 batters and struck out the side in the first inning. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time. That’s what they’ve been waiting for from me. This is the best game I’ve had in the big leagues. This was the first one where I felt so comfortable.”
He made his only career start against the Devil Rays on May 2, allowing two runs in five innings of a 7-5 win.
“He’s got an opportunity, and you’d like to see him run with,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Tampa Bay will counter with Tim Corcoran (4-5, 4.13), who lost his third straight start on Saturday, allowing three runs and five hits in four innings of a 5-3 defeat to Cleveland. He is 0-5 with a 5.88 ERA over his last seven starts and has not earned a win since July 9, when he pitched one scoreless inning of relief in a 6-5 victory over the New York Yankees.
Corcoran has not won as a starter since July 5, when he allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory over Boston, capping a three-start winning streak.
“I wasn’t aggressive,” said Corcoran, who is making his first start against the Rangers. “There’s been a couple starts where I haven’t been aggressive. The same thing happened in those starts.”