ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said before Monday's opener of a three-game set against the Oakland A's that his team didn't need to start thinking about sweeping series yet. Now, down to 19 games left and 4 1/2 games out of the American League Wild Card lead after another home loss, the Rangers need to think differently. The Rangers are getting desperate for wins, having lost 9-0 to the A's on Monday with their hottest pitcher, Scott Feldman, kicking off a series that is a prelude to the AL West-leading Angels coming to town.
The Rangers lost a half-game on the idle Red Sox in the Wild Card race and remained six games behind the Angels, who lost to the Yankees on Monday night. The Rangers haven't been this far out of the Wild Card race since late July. They are 1-3 to start this crucial nine-game homestand, and 13-13 since Aug. 18. The one thing they've been able to count on during this stretch of treading rainwater is Feldman, who thrust himself into the Cy Young race with a terrific stretch of pitching. Feldman came into Monday's game having won seven straight decisions. That's what would seemingly make this a devastating loss, but Washington wasn't having any of that, even though his offense hasn't scored in 19 innings. "We're not discouraged," Washington said. "We're playing baseball. We just got beat." Feldman delivered five scoreless innings to start the game, but the offense did nothing against journeyman starter Brett Tomko. The Rangers had two hits in the first five innings, one a two-out double that was followed up a by a strikeout by Ivan Rodriguez. It was the Rangers' only at-bat with a runner in scoring position. The other hit was a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth that was wiped out by a double-play groundout by Rodriguez. Are the Rangers finally missing key bats Michael Young and Josh Hamilton, something that wasn't in question when they swept Cleveland last week while scoring 31 runs? "I don't think that has anything to do with it," Washington said. "We miss Mike. We miss Josh. But our guys aren't going to make excuses. The game fell apart for Feldman with a runner at third and one out in the top of the sixth in what was still a scoreless game. A's leadoff hitter Adam Kennedy hit a soft grounder to Rangers first baseman Chris Davis, who tried to go to the plate to cut down Daric Barton, who had doubled to start the inning. Davis' throw was late, and Kennedy reached first base. The A's scored two more runs in the inning on back-to-back doubles by Ryan Sweeney and Kurt Suzuki. "I kept going out there, trying to locate my pitches," Feldman said. "It came down to the location of my pitches. On all three doubles, I didn't have the greatest of location. The night went from bad to worse for the Rangers in the seventh, as Feldman sandwiched two hit batters around a single and was taken out of the game having thrown 98 pitches. Jason Grilli then allowed a run-scoring double to Rajai Davis, and Sweeney had a three-run double to make it 7-0 with two of the runs charged to Feldman. The Rangers, meanwhile, did nothing to get to Tomko, who allowed five hits, four of them singles. Ian Kinsler, who was 0-for-3, said Tomko had all of his pitches going, but that wasn't only thing the right-hander had going for him. "We didn't swing the bats well," Kinsler said. "But give the guy credit for throwing a complete-game shutout." After the game, outfielder David Murphy talked about how the Rangers have played with a sense of urgency all season, and even hinted to needing to win more than two out of three in each series the rest of the way. "Basically we need to win every single game from here on out," Murphy said. "Is that probable? No. But we need to play with everything from here on out. "We're just making it difficult on ourselves. As long as we're in this race, we're going to battle every day. Everyone in this clubhouse believes we're in this race."
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.