ARLINGTON — One-run games have been the Rangers’ kryptonite all season long.
On Tuesday night, the Rangers changed their fortunes with a walk-off win over the A’s, but on Wednesday, Texas couldn’t quite complete the two-game sweep over Oakland.
Instead, the Rangers suffered their franchise-record-setting 32nd one-run loss in an 8-7 defeat to their AL West foes at Globe Life Field. The club is now 13-32 in such games this year.
“A loss is a loss, whether it’s by one run or 10 runs,” said Rangers starter Dane Dunning, who gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings. “We as a whole need to figure out a better way of maintaining a lead, that includes myself. As a whole, I think we know obviously this year hasn’t been great, but there are things that we need to fix and things we will fix.”
Here are three takeaways after the Rangers split the two-game set against Oakland:
Mark Mathias is an asset?
One of the most shocking developments since interim manager Tony Beasley took over earlier this summer has been the emergence of utilityman Mark Mathias.
Mathias walked off the A’s on Tuesday night with his first career walk-off homer and added a 2-for-5 night with another home run on Wednesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mathias became the first Texas batter to hit a homer in three consecutive plate appearances since Rougned Odor from May 16-17, 2019.
In just 15 games with the Rangers since coming over in a Trade Deadline deal that sent Matt Bush to Milwaukee, Mathias is hitting .370/.453/.761 with five home runs, 16 RBIs and a 1.214 OPS.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Beasley said. “I didn’t know him prior to him coming here. What I was told from talking to [Round Rock manager] Matt Hagen in Triple-A was that he praised his at bats. He said he was a professional and that he was going to give you quality at-bats. But you never know until you see it. He stepped right in and he’s definitely done everything that I heard he would do and then some offensively. He’s been a really nice addition to the ballclub.”
Mathias hasn’t been the only hot bat.
In Wednesday’s loss, the Rangers hit three home runs — from Mathias, Marcus Semien and Jonah Heim — for the third straight game, marking the first time Texas has done so since June 13-15, 2016. The Rangers have also scored six or more runs in three straight games for just the third time this season.
Heim’s homer in the 5th inning was his first since Aug. 3 against Baltimore. He entered the game 3 for his last 43.
“It was good to see Jonah have a good night offensively,” Beasley said. “He’s been scuffling a little bit offensively as of late. But you get the line drive to right center and then he hit the home run with two outs. That was big for him, and big for us as well. It’s good to see him to have a good night at the plate, for us and for his confidence.”
Everything else … needs cleaning up
The Rangers were ultimately done in by the “little things” in the loss to Oakland, which has been the story of the season.
Dunning said Oakland made the Rangers pay for a couple of “mistake pitches” by putting them over the wall, while walks and fielding errors often led to runs for the A’s.
One crucial miscue came at the worst possible moment, when Corey Seager couldn’t handle Stephen Vogt’s grounder up the middle in the ninth, after the A’s had tied the game against José Leclerc. The go-ahead run scored, and that proved the crucial run on the evening.
“I felt like we had a good grasp on the game tonight,” Beasley said. “We were playing with the lead. We missed a few spots and every mistake we made ended up in the seats. They didn’t miss in the big moments, the opportunity to get back into the game and to take the lead. We just didn’t close it out. We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we should late in the game and we didn’t pitch well enough to win either.”
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