For the Texas Rangers, an expression can be heard within the walls of Globe Life Park among fans and players. It all started back when then Rangers pitching legend and CEO Nolan Ryan resigned at the end of the 2013 season. Some, if not most, believed his ill-timed exit was due to the poor relationship he had with president and general manager Jon Daniels. Hence the beginning of the Curse of Nolan Ryan.
Whether Ryan left on his own doing or not, since then, the Rangers finished last in the American League with a 67-95 record — their worst since 1994 (52-62) — which was ironically the season after “The Ryan Express” retired from the pastime.
After Friday’s 5-1 loss to Lone Star rival and AL West foe Houston Astros, the Rangers posed the question, what could be worse? Well, in the loss, starting pitcher Derek Holland left the hill after first the inning feeling tightness in his left shoulder. A later report hours after the game stated he’ll be out for six to eight weeks.
The guy who was supposed to replace ace Yu Darvish will now be watching from the bullpen as the Rangers continue to be injury-prone.
Ryan Rua, who recently won the job in left field, sprained his right ankle and was seen limping around in a boot. He is expected to be placed on the disabled list Daniels said.
Shin-Soo Choo then left an inning after Holland, suffering back spasms. Manager Jeff Banister believes Choo will be fine, but with injuries he suffered last season, Banister just wants Choo and the rest of his guys back at 100 percent.
A trio of Rangers exited early and the Curse of Nolan Ryan still haunts the clubhouse, but Holland still believes there is hope in this team.
“One guy does not win a game,” Holland said during an interview with Rangers play-by-play man Jared Sandler on ESPN 103.3 just an hour before yesterday’s game.” We’ve got eight other guys that need to go out there and do their job. What about those guys who were here last year that got hurt? Like a Prince [Fielder], Elvis [Andrus] didn’t have the year he wanted, and [Adrian] Beltré.
“All of those guys were out, and did we forget that they are a part of this team, or was Darvish the only guy that had ‘Rangers’ written across his jersey?”
Holland then went on to ask Sandler if the team was called, “Yu Rangers?” Of course not, and he mentioned he wasn’t trying to knock Darvish, because he’s one of the best pitchers in the game by far. His rebuttal to this own question was spot on.
“If people want to sit and say our season is over because we lost Darvish, fine,” Holland said. “I want to see those people in September when we’re kicking some butt.
“Focus on us, because there are eight other guys out there that are going to do their job.”
Sandler then signed off by stating the only way the Rangers will get out of the Curse is to win.
In seven games, the Rangers are 3-4 with a one-game losing streak, and Texas has yet to win consecutive games thus far.
Fort Worth native Yovani Gallardo started Texas’ penultimate game allowing two runs in five and two thirds innings, leaving the mound with a win to even his record in their 6-2 decision over the Astros Saturday.
Sunday’s game was the definition of Jeff Banister’s “Never Ever Quit” mentality. Texas found themselves down four runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but added back-to-back two-run innings in the seventh and eighth frames to tie the score at 4 apiece.
An inning later with the bases loaded, Texas’ center fielder Leonys Martín was robbed by Houston’s right fielder George Springer of a walk-off grand slam.
“For me, that’s going to be the best catch that anybody makes in my life,” Martín said. “Especially a grand slam, walk-off. I can’t believe that he made that play. I can’t believe it.”
The game extended to fourteen innings, but it was newly-acquired Houston catcher by way of AL West rival Los Angeles Angels who finished his day at the plate 1-for-1 with a two-run shot in the 14th inning.
Texas had one more at bat and didn’t let Houston win the bout easily, loading the bases with two outs. It was young Rougned Odor who ripped a line drive to right field for Springer to run down the last out of the contest.
A reoccurring theme in each of the Rangers’ four losses is their struggle with leaving runners in scoring position on base. As a team, the Rangers have only recorded two hits in 22 at-bats (.091) with a man in scoring position in those games. For the season, they’re hitting .173 (9-for-52) in a timely hit situation.
“We left 15 [on base]” Banister said, “and we didn’t get the hit that we needed, but they battled their behinds off all day long.”
Today, Texas begins the first of their three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. Ross Detwiler is slated to start on the hill for the Rangers, while second-year man Matt Shoemaker will throw for the Angels.
First pitch at 7:05 p.m.
Even though it’s early in the season, and the Rangers’ AL West opponents haven’t exactly ran away with the division, the Rangers will have to stay the course and get those necessary wins — and do it with consistency to lift the Curse of Nolan Ryan.