The Rangers have lost six of their last eight and 11 of their last 16 games, and only the Kansas Royals have a worse record in the American League.
Ask what the Rangers need most right now, Mark Teixeira thought for a moment, and then stated the obvious.
"We need a 10-game winning streak," Teixeira said. "I'm serious. If we go into every series hoping to squeak out one or two, then we're just going to keep going the way we're going. If we can get on a roll and start believing in ourselves, then we have a chance to do good things."
Washington tried to implore his team to do that when he met with him before the game. There is a lot of built-up frustration in the Rangers' clubhouse, and Washington kept the meeting positive.
"I don't have negative meetings," Washington said before the game. "I was very positive. I just said, 'Let's go out here thinking that today is the first day, and play the game the way it's supposed to be played.' It's not tough to stay positive. You know they're capable of coming out of it. It may sound redundant but tonight may be the night. You don't want to miss the opportunity."
Tonight was not the night. Instead it brought about another loss and another injury. Wilkerson pulled his right hamstring going into second base on a fifth-inning double, and had to come out of the game. Outfielder Marlon Byrd will be called up from Triple-A Oklahoma.
"The doc says it's bad," Washington said. "I believe he pulled the hamstring bad."
Wilkerson's double was big. The Rangers trailed 3-1 going into the fifth but Hank Blalock led off with a home run -- his third in three games -- and Wilkerson doubled to right off Devil Rays starter James Shields.
Matt Kata replaced Wilkerson, and Nelson Cruz brought him home with a single to center. But that was the Rangers only hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. They also had just two hits in the final five innings.
"If we can play consistently the way we played tonight, I think we'll come out of it," Washington said. "I enjoyed the way we played tonight. I can't give our team enough credit for the way we played tonight. We just didn't get a hit when it counted."
Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy pitched six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out seven. Joaquin Benoit followed with two scoreless innings, and Akinori Otsuka worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth without the Devil Rays scoring.
Scott Feldman couldn't do the same in the 10th. Both C.J. Wilson and Frank Francisco were not options because of their workload in the Angels series, so Washington went with Feldman, who had been called up from Triple-A earlier in the day.
But Feldman started the inning by walking Carlos Pena.
"Obviously, that was the only thing in my control," Feldman said. "That was the negative part of it."
Delmon Young then took a tough inside sinker and dropped it into right field for a single, putting runners at the corners. Washington had Dioner Navarro intentionally walked to load the bases to set up the force at the plate. But Brendan Harris, with the infield in, singled through the left side to bring home the winning run.
Harris was mobbed by his Devil Rays teammates at first base while the Rangers walked quietly off the field to absorb another setback.
"Tonight I thought we played good baseball, we just didn't get it done," catcher Gerald Laird said. "We need to play good baseball for awhile, just not two or three here and there. We need to play good consistent baseball for awhile."
Teixeira said the Rangers haven't learned to win together as a team. He admitted they need to learn soon.
"I hope so," Teixeira said. "You can't win a division in May but you can certainly lose one if you get too far down and have to battle your way the rest of the year. We're not pushing the panic button but everybody wants to win. Maybe we're trying too hard. Maybe we want to win too much but everybody in here is itching to win."
They didn't win on Tuesday. Instead, they had a meeting, another roster move and a long day at Disney World.