A bad day at the ballpark is still better than a good day just about anywhere else. And yesterday was a very bad day at the ballpark.

The Texas Rangers bullpen is destroying the most promising season in a decade. It’s a disaster and it’s impacting the whole team and threatening to knock us completely out of the playoff picture. Yesterday’s demoralizing loss to Houston will probably be remembered as the game that ended the Rangers 2023 chances.

Whitney and I are taking two days to see a couple of games in this pivotal Rangers-Astros series. And yesterday started out good enough. Andrew Heaney began the first with a 1-2-3 inning. Semien worked a leadoff walk to start the Rangers’ firstĀ  and Seager followed by hitting the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer. Garver added an RBI single to make it 3-0. Things went back and forth. It was tied 5-5 going to the seventh inning. And that’s when the bullpen imploded. Again. By the time we got to the stretch, Texas was down 11-5 and the game was over.

The worst part about it was that by the 8th and 9th innings, there were 20,000 Astros fans in the stadium and 43 Rangers fans. It was brutal.

Six weeks ago, the Rangers were uncatchable in the AL West. Now they’ve lost 12 of their past 16 games, the bullpen has blown late leads in ten of those losses, they’re in third place, and just a half-game up on the Blue Jays for the final wild card spot. It’s likely now this team doesn’t even make the playoffs after spending 139 of the first 140 days of the season in first place.

The bullpen is killing this team. Since no amount of runs scored are enough, the offense is pressing instead of just taking what the game gives them. Too much pressure. The starters and defense are just as stressed, afraid to do anything the least bit risky and playing tight. It’s a recipe for failure and that’s exactly what’s happening.

Of course, the Rangers are playing meaningful baseball games in September. They’re losing those games, but they are meaningful games with a lot at stake, and nobody thought this was possible back in April. This team has lost 90+ games in each of the past three seasons. So, in one sense, we’re enjoying a division race down the stretch for the first time since 2014 — that’s fun. But, what a disappointment. There was so much energy in that sold out barn yesterday. For six innings there was tension with every pitch, every swing, every throw. It felt like a playoff game. Rangers and Astros fans side by side, giving each other a hard time, cheering for their team, hanging on every pitch. And then it blew up.

Whit and I are back at it tonight. And we keep reminding each other that a bad day at the ballpark is still better than a good day just about anywhere else.