Padilla misses chance at 15th victory

Padilla misses chance at 15th victory

ARLINGTON --- The Rangers play their final home game of 2006 on Sunday at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

There will not be many fond moments to review. The Rangers' inability to win at home is high on the list of reasons why they are not going to the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

Instead, they assured themselves of a losing record at home for the first time since 1997 with a 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night. Starter Vicente Padilla allowed six runs in five innings, and the Rangers are now 39-41 at home on the year.

"It would have been a lot better season if we had played well at home but it just hasn't happened," third baseman Hank Blalock said. "It's disappointing."

The Rangers are only one of two teams in the American League with a losing record at home. The Kansas City Royals are 34-46. Even the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are one over .500 at home after beating the New York Yankees on Saturday.

"It's somewhat shocking, especially considering how comfortable we are at home," shortstop Michael Young said. "Everybody has to take advantage of playing at their own ballpark, and we didn't this year. I don't have an explanation for it."

The Rangers haven't been above .500 at home since an 8-7 record May 4 and they proceeded to lose seven of their next nine. Since May 4, they have had 11 chances to get back over .500 and have been unable to do so each time.

"That's been a major factor in our season," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "On the flip side, we played a lot better on the road. If we had done better at home, obviously things would have been better. It's something we're going to have to solve."

The Rangers' subpar home record has kept them from taking advantage of a 39-36 record on the road. The Rangers have six road games remaining, but if their winning road trend continues, they'll finish with their first winning record on the road since 1999. That was the last time the Rangers won a division title.

In 2004, the Rangers were 51-30 at home but 38-43 on the road. Last year, they were 44-37 at home and 35-46 on the road.

"We play just as hard on the road as we do at home," catcher Gerald Laird said. "It's really tough to say. It's not like we feel any better on the road than at home. Obviously we feel more comfortable at home. Maybe we're just not getting the big break or the big hit at home.

The Oakland Athletics, who have all but wrapped up the American League West division title, are 49-31 at home. Five of the six division leaders are at least 15 games over .500 at their home parks.

One possible reason for the Rangers' slip in home record is they haven't punished the opposition offensively like they have in the past. From 2000-2005, the Rangers had the highest home OPS (.841) in the American League. This year they slipped to sixth with an .805 OPS.

Another may be clutch hitting. The Rangers were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. In 41 home losses this year, they hit .227 with runners in scoring position. In 39 home victories, they batted .346 in those situations.

The Rangers have always relied on offense to make up for poor pitching, but this year's staff has a 4.54 ERA, the second lowest for the club since a 4.28 ERA in 1993.

The Rangers have obviously pitched better on the road. Their staff has a 4.48 ERA on the road, fourth best in the American League but a 4.58 ERA at home, the 10th best.

The difference has been their starters. At home, they are 30-31 with a 5.27 ERA while they are 29-23 with a 4.79 ERA on the road. Padilla gave up four runs in the third inning on Saturday and then a two-run home run to Jhonny Peralta in the fifth inning.

That left the Rangers trailing, 6-1, and not even a four-hit night from Mark Teixeira or a two-run home run from Carlos Lee in the eighth inning could overcome that.

The Rangers just found too many problems to overcome at home this year.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.