By Rich Mancuso
Adrian Beltre quietly packed his bags in the Texas Rangers visitor’s clubhouse at Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon. Nearby was Rougned Odor doing the same thing as the Rangers completed a four-game split with the Yankees in the Bronx in a series that showed some flaws with the Texas bullpen.
“We’re playing well but there is always room for improvement,” Beltre said before leaving for Minnesota. It was the Rangers first series with consecutive losses since mid- May and they still finished the month of June with 20 wins, also remaining on top of the AL west by a wide margin, with the best record in the league.
However, no team wants to come to the Bronx and lose two straight to the struggling Yankees. And that sentiment was felt by Beltre The usual talkative all-star at third base knows this is a long season, and his team is not about to go on a tailspin prior to the all-star-break and end to the first half of their schedule.
They play 162- games and during that span there are the streaks, slumps and of course the mishaps. Some of the flaws for this team began to show in the four games. A bullpen right now is not up to par, and could be an issue down the September stretch of games and for an eventual and hopeful postseason run in October.
Three pitchers in the starting rotation are on the 15-day disabled list including Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis with a combined 35 games missed, of course that is significant starts that are valuable for the Rangers.
Two walk-off wins for the Yankees, one a home run ball in the ninth given up by their closer Sam Dyson is not expected from this bunch.
Beltre the veteran of 18 years, from Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic, had a quiet series and went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts Thursday afternoon. Despite not pounding the ball, attributed to the Yankees big three out of the pen of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, Beltre is aware how good pitching can stop good hitting.
“It happens to every team and the best players,” he said. “It’s a long season. There is always room for improvement. It’s time to start a new streak.”
Yes, the Rangers looked like a team in disarray after leaving the Bronx. So how did this team that scores runs, and could do nothing wrong the first two games, manage to drop to lose the final two via the walk-off home run and a wild pitch?
Belre shook his head and remained silent. Most of the time the players say, “That’s baseball.” Beltre did not use that term and would not put the blame on the bullpen or his teammates. He is that type of player that puts him among the all-time leaders at third base in many offensive and defensive categories.
“It’s challenging on the road,” manager Jeff Banister said about the last two games that ended in the Yankees last at bat in the ninth inning. “Walk-offs not so brutal but that leadoff walk was challenging to us.”
The leadoff walk, Thursday to the Yankees Chase Headley in the ninth, would eventually lead to the winning run due to a passed by thrown by losing pitcher Tony Barnette. Catcher Robinson Chirinos, one of the best at the position, could not handle a fastball that got by him and took the blame.
Beltre, when the clubhouse door was open to the media was briefly seen consoling the catcher.
“What can you say,” he said when asked about his comments to Chirinos. There does not have to be a question asked what was said. Beltre, has been through this in the past and is one of five active players in baseball with over a hundred home runs with three different teams that include the Dodgers, Seattle Mariners and now the Rangers.
And when teams are looking for added depth to the lineup, Beltre is mentioned in trade talk. Texas has that potent offense and with the non waiver trade deadline nearing, August 1, the team needs more help out of the pen. Except, Beltre may be non expendable along with Rougned Odor.
The 22-year old Odor, is over the 10-game suspension that was leveled by MLB after throwing a punch to the face of Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista in a game earlier this month. So, Odor, who concentrates on winning ballgames, is going about his business.
However, Odor is also a name that opposing GM’s request as a bargaining tool. He handles second base like a veteran, and the Rangers have made it known that Odor is an untouchable who is signed through 2018, realizing they can get something back for a struggling bullpen if they part with their infielder from Maracaibo Venezuela.
Banister says about Odor: “I think the rest of the baseball world is going to continue to take note of how special he is.”
Last season,Odor tied for third most home runs (16) and and seventh most in RBI (61) among second basemen in baseball. Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, he hit his team high `15th home run and he paced the Rangers with eight-home runs in the month of June.
And his 27 home runs, since the All-Star break of last season leads all Rangers. That’s four more than the 23 hit by Beltre.
“I’m still learning, but I think I’m better,” Odor said. He glanced at Beltre and said, “There are some great veterans who really help me a lot. They help me with little things. They get me better in every area.”
Learning though is a part of baseball everyday as they win and lose. The Rangers have ability to make that run in October, and surely the veteran and youngster will be around as those valuable tools to get them there.