We’ve been saying for weeks that this lineup is a bat short, if not more, but last night it was every other phase that failed the team.
The bats were fine. Not so much for the defense, the baserunning, the starting pitching, the concentration or intensity or attention to fundamentals or whatever you want to call that, and, in the end, the bullpen.
The bullpen, which had been so good since coming to the rescue in the fourth inning (7.0-7-1-1-2-4) and which, thanks to Matt Garza on Wednesday and Derek Holland on Thursday, was as lined up for battle as you could hope for in the dead of summer.
The bullpen, whose stalwarts Neal Cotts and Joe Nathan remained available and seated as Jason Frasor was sent out for a third inning in the 11th. Jason Frasor, who had never pitched three innings in his 10 big league seasons. Jason Frasor, who had thrown two innings once in 2012 and once in 2011 and once in 2010 and in fact who had only recorded more than three outs as a Ranger two times — a 1.1-inning effort in May and another 1.1-inning job in June.
Cotts and Nathan sat. So did Tanner Scheppers, who threw 11 pitches last Saturday, rested on Sunday, threw 11 pitches on Monday, rested on Tuesday and Wednesday, and threw four pitches on Thursday. The manager said after the game that Scheppers was unavailable last night.
OK. There’s got to be a reason for that. Fine.
But the manager said Cotts and Nathan were available.
Thank goodness they’ll be ready tonight with Yu Darvish on the mound. No, don’t even have one of them getting loose just in case Jason Frasor happens to let the first two Indians hit safely in the 11th inning on a night when the offense and the bullpen had absolutely battled to turn Cleveland 7, Texas 1 into a tied ballgame. Keep Cotts and Nathan down in a winnable game against a team whose bullpen you clearly outmatch, because who knows how much help your ace will need the next day. Cotts and Nathan were available, but what does that even mean?
The last time the Rangers were four games back in the division, they’d never been to a World Series.
There have been too many nights this season, more so than any time since Texas was winning pennants, when this team seems more than just a bat or two short.