The Texas Rangers’ longest homestand of the season was supposed to be their opportunity to jump into the AL wild card race. So far, they’re not gaining much ground.
After splitting the first six games of their 11-game stay in Texas, the Rangers will look for some improved pitching on Sunday when they play the decisive game of their series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Texas (57-54) was six games behind wild card-leading Boston on July 27, when it began its 11-game homestand. But though the Red Sox have lost three of their last five, the Rangers have picked up just a half-game on Boston and still trail Minnesota by 4 1/2 games and the New York Yankees by 3 1/2.
Texas had a chance to move a season-high five games above .500 on Saturday, and held a 3-2 lead on the Blue Jays (55-55) after five innings. But former Ranger Rod Barajas had a two-run double in the sixth, and the Toronto bullpen pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings in relief of starter A.J. Burnett as the Blue Jays won 6-4.
The Rangers fired their pitching coach and bullpen coach after their 9-8 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night, but then the relief corps cost them on Saturday.
“I’m angry,” Wright told the team’s official Web site. “Feldman goes out there and pitches his tail off. It’s frustrating to see him pitch that well and then lose the game. It’s my fault that we lost that game.”
Texas has allowed 658 runs—111 more than the nearest AL team.
Luis Mendoza (2-4, 7.34 ERA) will get the start on Sunday. He’s pitched poorly since moving into the rotation from the bullpen at the start of July. Mendoza is 1-2 with a 10.80 ERA in his last four starts, and went 5 1-3 innings while allowing six runs on Tuesday against Seattle. He didn’t get a decision in Texas’ 11-10 win.
Mendoza’s first start this season was against the Blue Jays, who reached him for four runs—one earned—over five innings in a 4-1 loss on April 12.
Toronto’s win Saturday snapped a three-game losing streak. The Blue Jays are 25-32 on the road, but they’ve thrived in Texas, winning four of five games at Rangers Ballpark this season.
Toronto has scored the fourth-fewest runs in the AL, and still doesn’t have a player with 50 RBIs. Outfielder Alex Rios, however, is getting close. He has gone 6-for-13 (.462) in his last three games with two RBIs, putting him at 49.
Rookie David Purcey (1-1, 8.10) will be looking to build on his first major league win. Purcey gave up three runs over six innings on Saturday against Seattle, striking out four in an 8-3 win.
“Hopefully I can go out and relax like I did (against the Mariners) … and keep us in the games,” Purcey told Toronto’s official Web site.
The Blue Jays have won five of seven on the road.