11/01/10 2:37 AM ET
Rangers' offense slumping at inopportune time
By Thomas Boorstein / MLB.com
"We've seemed to have gotten in a little rut," outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "What worse time to do that than the World Series?"
Against Madison Bumgarner and Brian Wilson, the Rangers managed only three hits -- all singles -- in a 4-0 loss to the Giants in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday. Texas is in a 1-3 hole in this best-of-seven World Series and faces elimination in Game 5 on Monday.
"We got to keep going up there and grinding out at-bats -- sticking to what has worked for us all year," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "These couple of games we've been shut out, we might have strayed from it a little bit."
The Rangers -- also throttled by Matt Cain, Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson in Game 2 -- became the first team since the 1966 Dodgers to be shut out twice in the same World Series. In that Fall Classic, Baltimore blanked Los Angeles three times en route to a four-game sweep.
These Rangers look different from the team that bludgeoned its way past the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. In that set, Texas averaged more than six runs per game and hit nine home runs. As a team, it hit .304 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .512 slugging percentage. Through four games in the World Series, those numbers sit at .211/.309/.283, with just two home runs and an average of 2.75 runs per game.
"We know what we're capable of as a hitting team," outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "Obviously, there is a little disappointment, a little frustration. But guys are not discouraged by any means. But we know we have to show the world what Rangers baseball is all about."
Offenses often walk a fine line between crediting the opposing pitchers and taking some blame for their meager outputs. On Sunday night, Bumgarner worked eight scoreless innings and had Texas off-balance all game. No Rangers player reached second base until the seventh inning, the only frame in which they had multiple baserunners. If not for an error by Giants third baseman Juan Uribe, the Rangers could have become the first World Series team since the 1971 Orioles to go an entire game without reaching second base.
"As an offense, we take responsibility," third baseman Michael Young said. "It's our job to score runs no matter who is on the mound. We have to make sure we're doing our job at the plate. But he threw well. Any time in the postseason, you're going to see good pitching. We have to find a way to score runs no matter what the situation is."
"I don't like giving pitchers credit, but he did a good job tonight," Hamilton said.
The Rangers were shut out five times this season -- and only once at home. But the Giants' starters, unfamiliar and talented, have made things difficult for Texas.
"Well, it's certainly been pitching as advertised," manager Ron Washington said. "Those guys pound the strike zone. They've got good stuff. They've got velocity, they can spin the baseball, they can change speeds and they keep their defense engaged. And that's what you like to see out of pitching, keeping the defense engaged. They've done a great job."
"They pumped the zone with strikes," hitting coach Clint Hurdle said. "Make sure you're watching what we're watching and what those guys are trying to hit. You're talking about a couple of nights where they were on top of their games."
With Tim Lincecum looming in Game 5, the Rangers need a quick solution to their offensive problems if they want to stave off elimination. As Texas has proved, hitting in the World Series isn't easy.
"I wish I had an answer to that," Hamilton said when asked how the Rangers can turn things around. "I'd make a lot of money being counsel to the other teams. But I don't. All we can do is show up tomorrow, continue doing the things -- as far as working in the cage and BP and those things. I feel like everyone's focused and doing what they need to do to be on track, and it's just not working out too well."
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.