Nines are wild for the Texas Rangers. And not in a good way.
The Rangers have lost nine consecutive road games, dating to May 6 in Minnesota, following a 5-0 loss to the host Seattle Mariners on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game set.
Texas also has lost nine in a row at T-Mobile Park. Its last victory in the Emerald City came on July 23, 2019.
“I believe in our guys,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “I hate to use the word, but we’re a little bit bipolar offensively at times … I think that’s (typical) with a young team.”
The Rangers will try to snap both streaks when they send right-hander Jordan Lyles (2-3, 5.94 ERA) to the mound Friday against Mariners left-hander Justus Sheffield (3-4, 5.11).
Lyles is 1-4 with a 6.48 ERA in nine career appearances against Seattle, including seven starts. Sheffield is 1-1 with a 4.29 ERA in four games against Texas, with three starts.
Sheffield started against the Rangers on May 9 in Arlington, Texas, and suffered a 10-2 defeat. He went five innings and allowed seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.
Thursday’s loss bothered Woodward on a number of levels.
After giving up 20 runs over their previous two games, both losses, the Rangers were facing the American League’s worst-hitting team.
And they were facing a pitcher in right-hander Chris Flexen who had been hammered by San Diego in his previous start, getting knocked out after allowing eight earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings.
“They were equally frustrating,” Woodward said. “Start with the bottom of their lineup. They shouldn’t beat us. We should go right after those guys.”
Woodward was referring to the Mariners’ Nos. 7-9 hitters — Tom Murphy, Jacob Nottingham and Jack Mayfield — who entered Thursday’s game batting a combined .119. They combined to reach base seven times.
Murphy and Nottingham launched back-to-back homers leading off the bottom of the third inning. Mayfield hit a two-run double in the seventh as Seattle scored three times to pull away.
The Rangers felt good about their chances against Flexen after scoring four runs on 10 hits against him over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-4 loss at home on May 7.
“We’re a big-league offense. We’ve got to obviously pride ourselves in doing a better job than that,” Woodward said. “That’s the type of guy we feel like we can handle pretty well.”
The Mariners have won three of their past four games after a season-worst six-game skid.
They also improved to 20-8 when scoring four or more runs this season.
It was the offensive boost from Murphy, Nottingham and Mayfield that pleased manager Scott Servais.
“We’ve talked about it for the first six to seven weeks of the season of having the bottom of the lineup create some traffic and create some opportunities for us,” Servais said. “And those guys carried us (Thursday).”
–Field Level Media