Losing two of three games to Detroit showed the Rangers to be mortal. Every team is.
The bigger issue: What was the bigger development over the three games in Detroit, the loss of Josh Hamilton for six to 10 weeks or the growing cracks in the Rangers bullpen?
While it is impossible to replace an MVP, the bullpen issue can't be ignored, especially after the Rangers allowed the Tigers back-to-back walk-off wins. Detroit got a bases-loaded single from Miguel Cabrera in the ninth inning Tuesday after right-hander Darren O'Day walked a pair of hitters to load the bases. On Wednesday, the Rangers went to lefty Darren Oliver. He retired the first hitter of the ninth in a 2-2 game, then allowed a homer to Brandon Inge on the next pitch.
That came after righty Mark Lowe, whom the Rangers hoped would be a key middle or setup reliever, lost a 2-0 lead in the sixth. In four appearances, Lowe has been anything but reliable. He's allowed opponents a .500 batting average and compiled a 13.50 ERA. He was also hit hard in the spring.
The Rangers expected to have a very deep bullpen with five options to pitch the seventh and eighth: Lowe, O'Day, Oliver, lefty Arthur Rhodes and righty Alexi Ogando. But Ogando was needed more in the rotation and was moved there in the last week of spring training camp; Oliver and O'Day have not been as effective as they were at the start of last season; Lowe has not been effective at all and Rhodes is basically a situational pitcher.
The Rangers' other relievers ahead of right-hander Neftali Feliz are unproven as bullpen guys. Righty Dave Bush, who made his first appearance of the season as a spot starter Wednesday, has pitched all but nine of his 125 major league appearances as a starter. Righty Mason Tobin is a Rule 5 draft pick who has pitched well, but he hadn't pitched above Class A until this season.
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