2014 Texas Rangers
2014 Texas Rangers / Franchise: Texas Rangers / BR Team Page
History, Comments, Contributions
Because of an injury to presumptive Opening Day starter Yu Darvish, the 2014 Texas Rangers opened their season against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 31st with Tanner Scheppers making his first career start on the mound. It was the first time a pitcher was making his first career start on Opening Day since Fernando Valenzuela had done so for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981. Valenzuela had pitched a shutout that day, but Scheppers struggled badly, giving up 7 runs in 4 innings, including a grand slam to Jimmy Rollins. Still, the Rangers managed 8 runs in 5 innings against Phillies starter Cliff Lee, but John Mayberry put the Phillies ahead to stay with a two-run pinch double in the 5th and Philadelphia won the wild game, 14-10. Pedro Figueroa took the loss in his first career appearance for the Rangers after being picked off waivers in the off-season.
On May 22nd, the Rangers suffered a huge blow to their postseason changes when they announced that both starting 2B Jurickson Profar and 1B Prince Fielder were likely out for the rest of the year. In the off-season, the Rangers had traded 2B Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers to acquire Fielder and open up a spot for their top prospect Profar. The move obviously did not work as Fielder was slowed by a herniated disk in his neck which eventually led to his season being cut short after hitting only .247 with 3 homers in 42 games. For his part, Profar had not been able to play a single game because of a torn muscle in his right shoulder. On June 8th, it was the turn of Fielder's replacement at first base, Mitch Moreland, to go down for an extended period, this time with an ankle injury requiring surgery. Moreland had been playing in pain and was hitting only .246. He was their 13th player on a crowded disabled at that point.
Things went from bad to worst from that point forward, as the Rangers dropped 18 of 21 games starting in mid-June, capped by being swept at home by the Houston Astros on July 7-9. That put them in last place in the AL West, behind their cross-state rivals, who had shed the laughingstock tag that had haunted them for the past three seasons. One of the clearest signs of how much the Rangers had struggled was the sheer number of players they had to use to make it through the season. On August 13th, they placed ace Yu Darvish on the disabled list and called up P Alex Claudio from the minors; he made his debut that same day as the Rangers were blown out by the Tampa Bay Rays, 10-1. Claudio was the 56th different player to appear for the Rangers - 17 of them rookies - and the 35th pitcher, both club records. But before the game ended, catcher J.P. Arencibia was called on to pitch the 9th inning to spare an exhausted pitching staff, making it 36 different pitchers. Two others had been position players like Arencibia, Mitch Moreland and C Chris Gimenez, who had also been used in blowout losses, another sign of how badly the season had gone. Still, the injuries continued to rack up, with OF Shin-Soo Choo seeing his season end in August with a bone spur in his elbow, and the revolving-door roster not showing any sign of slowing down. On September 2nd, when Derek Holland took the mound for Texas after missing all of the season with an injury, he became the 60th player to play for the Rangers, setting a new all-time major league record for most players used in a season by a team; three teams had previously used 59 players in one year. Holland's presence on the mound also tied the major league record for most pitchers used, with 37. With a number of September call-ups on the way, the team was certain to add to those giddy totals before the year ended. Indeed, on September 4th, pitchers Spencer Patton and Lisalverto Bonilla made their major league debuts, to make it 63 players and 40 pitchers used, giving the team sole possession of both records. They lost that game, 10-2, to the Seattle Mariners, thus becoming the first major league team to be mathematically eliminated that year. The next day, manager Ron Washington announced that he was stepping down to attend to a personal matter; bench coach Tim Bogar took over for him for the remainder of the season.
The Rangers unexpectedly began to play better than they had all year in September, in spite of using a patched-together line-up because of all the injuries and personnel moves. On September 17th, they put up six runs in the 9th inning to defeat the Oakland A's, 6-1, for their fifth straight win; the had been held scoreless through eight innings by starter Jeff Samardzija, but feasted on closer Sean Doolittle, with Arencibia's three-run homer the key blow. As a result of their late-season surge, the Rangers managed to avoid 100 losses but still finished in last place in the AL West. The team also announced that Washington would not return in 2015, ending the most successful era in franchise history.
Awards and Honors