Francisco Liriano was 2-7 with a 5.08 ERA going into the game against the Rangers on Friday. You would never have known that given how pathetic the Ranger’s offense played. Liriano gave up only 5 hits, but spotted the Rangers 6 walks and the Rangers had a runner on base in EVERY inning, but could only manage 1 run, losing to the Twins 5-1. The Rangers were 1-10 with men in scoring position wasting several opportunities to score runs. The most egregious failure unsurprisingly came from Mike Napoli who had runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the sixth and grounded into a double play. Just to give you some real perspective on how bad the Ranger offense was when they needed hits, they left 24 runners on base with both Napoli and Torrealba responsible for 10 of those 24.
Now let’s turn to defense where once again we see a familiar name. In the top of the 3rd the Twins had already scored 1 run, but with 2 outs and a runner on second, Martin Perez got Josh Willingham to hit a routine pop-up to first base which would end the inning with no more harm done. Mike Napoli, playing first, had other plans. He missed the catch and fell down. The ball landed fair allowing the runner from second to score and Willingham to make it all the way to second. And, as always happens when a defensive error extends an inning, in the very next at-bat, Justin Morneau, who coming into the game was hitting a salty .238, lined a single to right driving in Willingham from second. So, what should have been a 1-0 Twins lead turned into a 3-0 Twins lead, just like that.
The one bright side from Friday’s game was that Martin Perez actually did pitch well. With two errors on behalf of the Ranger defense, he only gave up 2 ERs in 6 innings of work, which on any given day should be good enough for the win with this caliber of offense behind him. But, during that 5 game losing streak the Rangers only managed to score 9 runs altogether while giving up 34 to the A’s, White Sox, and Twins. This all from a team that’s still leading both leagues in team batting average (.280) and run differential (+81).
Now, I told you that to tell you this. The Rangers have the best run differential in all of Major League Baseball and if they finish the season that way they will be only the fourth team in major league history to accomplish that during a season in which they also gave up 19 or more runs twice. They gave up 19 against the White Sox on Tuesday and they gave up 21 to the Mariners a few weeks ago.