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The Texas Rangers' offensive stats didn't just drop in 2024. They plummeted

ARLINGTON — The Texas Rangers played a game Friday without their best offensive player. Not that anyone would have noticed. They can't score points with Corey Seager. They can't score points without him.

In a 5-2 loss to San Francisco in the coaching reunion of Bruce Bochy and Bob Melvin, the offense was lacking again. That's become a recurring and boring theme this season. You think the bullpen problem was a blow last year? Well, at least that was to be expected. This lineup should be the most dangerous in the American League, if not baseball. The wait continues.

“We just couldn't get much done,” Bochy said, and it was live, not a recorded statement, although it could be mistaken as such at the time. “It's hard to win when you can't score points. We fought. We did some good things. We just made some mistakes that left the court.”

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On the last point: three of them. Two from starter Michael Lorenzen, both to Wilmer Flores with the bases empty in the first five innings. The other, a full-count cutter in the middle of the zone from the reliable David Robertson to Michael Conforto in the seventh inning.

The good things were mostly incidental. Reliever Jonathan Hernández, who has struggled for most of the season, struck out two consecutive batters in the bottom of the fifth inning with the bases loaded after Lorenzen ran out of steam early. It was the first time this year that Lorenzen was retired before the end of the fifth inning and only the second time in 10 starts that he failed to make it through six.

During the Rangers' two-run comeback, Wyatt Langford hit a single up the middle for a double. Yes, you read that right. That's one way to describe it. Langford hit a ball back up the middle in the fifth inning and then raced from home to second in 7.99 seconds, his second-fastest home to second time of the year.

And Ezequiel Duran, playing third base with Josh Smith at shortstop for Seager, threw two 85-plus mph pitches from the outfield grass to catch runners.

Good things. The kind of things that can help you win a close, low-scoring game.

But it's 2024: the year of the ever-decreasing offense. Even with Seager, the Rangers are struggling to match last year's offensive explosion. Seager will likely be out over the weekend with a hamstring injury, but is unlikely to end up on the injured list.

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Offense has declined in baseball, but the Rangers' decline is ridiculous. The league's OPS is down 4% from the same period last year, from .727 to .699. In that sense, the Rangers' OPS of .697 on Friday seemed about in line with the league average. But let's put it another way: This time last year, they were an .807 OPS team. That's a drop of more than 13%. It's not a drop, it's a crash.

As a result, the Rangers have scored three or fewer runs 30 times this season, including 11 times in their last 17 games. It's hard to win when you don't score. Their record is 4-26. Consider four runs the dividing line for this season. When they score four or more runs, their record is 26-7.

At least on Friday there was a plausible explanation: San Francisco starter Logan Webb, who entered the game with a 2.95 ERA. Webb, who led the way with his sinking fastball, threw strikes on the first pitch at an absurdly high rate. He started 20 of 26 batters with strikes. That led to quick outs. In a dozen at-bats he needed three or fewer pitches. The Rangers managed five hits (and no walks) against Webb in seven innings.

Four of them were close in the fifth, when they scored two runs on a sacrifice fly by Robbie Grossman and a single by Duran. That tied the game. At least for a moment.

In the seventh inning, however, high-leverage relief pitcher Robertson allowed a one-out walk to Matt Chapman and then left a full-count cutter in the middle of the plate that Conforto was able to hit into the right-field seats.

This again highlighted how difficult the Rangers have been in the seventh inning this season. They have now been outscored 53-13 in the seventh inning. The Rangers have a run differential of plus-10 this season and minus-40 in the seventh inning. Both the pitching and the offense seem to be disappearing.

The pitching part of that could be fixed soon, though. With Jon Gray potentially returning to the pitching staff as soon as Saturday and Max Scherzer not far behind, the Rangers could move a few excess starters back to bullpen roles. José Ureña probably ends up there. Maybe Andrew Heaney or Gray end up there, too. It could at least help even things out on the mound in the seventh inning.

And as for the offense? The search continues. Regardless of the inning, it is nowhere to be found.

Twitter: @Evan_P_Grant

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