Mon Jul 22 12:36am ET
The Texas Rangers would like to put a forgettable week behind them.
That's why their clubhouse doors remained closed for half an hour after Sunday's 5-3 loss at Houston, the Rangers' seventh straight defeat, as first-year manager Chris Woodward held a team meeting.
"This is the moment when, from a cultural standpoint, teams go one way or the other," Woodward said. "It's either inward or outward. I've been on a lot of teams where it goes outward. Guys just kind of said, 'OK, season's over, let's fight for ourselves.' This group is too good to let it happen. But I'd like us to come even more inward, to keep us strong."
The Rangers, who open a three-game series Monday in Seattle, have dropped into fourth place in the American League West (ahead of only the 40-62 Mariners) and 6 1/2 games back in the wild-card chase, with five teams ahead of them.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus was one of the Rangers who spoke during the team meeting.
"Personally I'm going through a little slump offensively, but it doesn't define me as a hitter," Andrus told MLB.com. "I still want an RBI situation with the game on the line. You have to be positive and always believe in yourself, regardless if you do good or bad.
"You can be mad, you can be in a slump, but you never want to show that emotion, that frustration, to the other team -- ever."
Andrus called the meeting "kind of refreshing."
"The message was keep our heads up, stay positive," Andrus told MLB.com. "They beat us in this series -- so be it. Have a short memory, turn the page and be ready for the next series."
Right-hander Adrian Sampson (6-6, 4.92 ERA) is scheduled to rejoin the Rangers' rotation for Monday's series opener. Sampson, born in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, has pitched three times in relief since his last start July 5 at Minnesota, when he allowed seven runs in 3 1/ 3 innings of a 15-6 loss.
Sampson, who made his major league debut with the Mariners in 2016, is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four career appearances against them, including two wins in a six-day span in late May when he entered in the second inning of both games after the Rangers used a reliever as an opener.
The Mariners are set to start left-hander Marco Gonzales (10-8, 4.48 ERA). He's 4-3 with a 3.35 ERA in eight career starts against the Rangers, including 1-2 with a 3.50 ERA in three appearances in 2019.
The Mariners haven't fared much better than the Rangers recently, as they've lost eight of their past nine games. Their only victory since the All-Star break came when Mike Leake took a perfect game into the ninth inning of a 10-0 victory against the Los Angeles Angels last Friday. Leake settled for a one-hitter.
Seattle suffered a 9-3 loss to the Angels on Sunday as Mariners rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi allowed seven runs in five innings.
"The fastball command at times has been better than it is at other times," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He's still going through a learning process. We still like the stuff and where it's at. Fortunately, we won't have to face the Angels again this year."
--Field Level Media