Texas Rangers trying to cut down on record amount of strikeouts

The record books show that Texas Rangers hitters have made history this week.

Entering Friday, the Rangers had struck out at least 10 times in five consecutive games to tie the 2009 club for the longest streak in team history. They had struck out at least 12 times in four straight Sunday through Wednesday, tying the American League record and good for the fourth such streak in MLB history.

That’s not the kind of history they want to be making, but it’s history nonetheless.

As is the case with history, the Rangers are trying to learn from it.

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Every hitter has been studying the anatomy of a strikeout to learn how they are getting to strike three at an alarming rate. The Rangers were trying to slow the whiffs Friday in a late game against the Seattle Mariners.

“When guys strikeout as a team, you want to make sure everyone is aware of it,” hitting coach Anthony Iapoce said. “You don’t want players trying not to. That’s what happens when a team is punching out together.

“What you try to look at is not necessarily the two-strike approach, but how you get there. Am I chasing early in the count? Am I early or late? Am I executing my plan?”

Iapoce said there isn’t one thing that all the hitters are doing to get themselves in trouble, so each of the 12 hitters is studying his own case. Nomar Mazara said that he reviews each of his strikeouts to see what a pitcher did to get the advantage on him.

Sometimes, Mazara said that he doesn’t swing at his pitch or fouls it off. Other times, a pitcher throws him something nasty and there’s nothing he could have done about it.

“I just forget about those strikeouts,” he said.

The ones that aggravate him and the Rangers the most are those with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. The ball needs to put in the play to have a chance to score the run, but too often this season the Rangers have failed in those spots.

“The strikeout that’s runners in scoring position and a looking strikeout,” manager Jeff Banister said. “If you had to rank them, that’s probably No. 1.”

Even the notion of a making a productive out can be challenging for a struggling hitter. A productive out isn’t a hit, and a hit is what all slumping hitters want.

Driving in runners from scoring position isn’t as easy as it seems, Mazara said. Pitchers bear down with their best stuff when the Rangers are threatening, and it’s up to the hitter to be better.

“If they don’t want you to score that run, they’re going to throw you some nasty pitches,” Mazara said. “You’ve got to be able to be patient and ready at the same time. You’ve got to look for you pitch early in the count. Don’t try to do too much. If you try to hit a homer, it won’t happen.”

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Some of the striking out isn’t surprising, with several hitters who, let’s face it, just strike out a lot. Joey Gallo (42 strikeouts in 95 at-bats), Mike Napoli (37 in 105), Carlos Gomez (31 in 107), Rougned Odor (26 in 112) and Mazara (23 in 110) are prone to striking out.

Ryan Rua has struck out 18 times in 43 at-bats. Delino DeShields has 17 in 47 at-bats.

It’s going to happen.

Tampa Bay was the only AL team with more strikeouts than the Rangers, who ranked fifth in the majors for most strikeouts.

“You’d like to cut those down,” Banister said. “But do you want some of those guys completely shutting down? We’d like for them to be as complete as they possible can, and being able to hit with two strikes is part of that.”

So, the Rangers are continuing to work to solve their strikeout problem. Iapoce said that not one hitter is lacking the effort or desire to improve, but the whiffs are an individual problem for which there is no quick fix.

They all recognize that it’s an area they must address.

“You try to take everything on an individual basis to get there,” Iapoce said. “Am I trying to do too much? Am I trying to do too little? You’re trying to control your thoughts, stay within yourself, and battle with two strikes.

“At some point for a few weeks, someone’s going to have that time when they don’t feel the way they usually do. One thing about these guys is they never quit. They just work their butts off. It’s incredible. They’re just trying to improve every day.”

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  • Joey Gallo hit his ninth homer on Thursday

    Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo said the club treated Thursday’s finale with the Astros just as any other game with no emphasis on preventing the sweep (Video by Stefan Stevenson).

Joey Gallo hit his ninth homer on Thursday

Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo said the club treated Thursday’s finale with the Astros just as any other game with no emphasis on preventing the sweep (Video by Stefan Stevenson).

Jeff Wilson: 817-390-7760, @JeffWilson_FWST

Rangers at Mariners

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