In winning their seventh consecutive series, the Texas Rangers have surged to a season best fifteen games over .500 and a five game lead in the AL West.
The Texas Rangers made a 6-4 win look a little more difficult than it should have been on Sunday afternoon. After starter Cole Hamels spun seven innings of one-run ball, reliever Tony Barnette came in a loaded the bases on three singles while only recording one out.
Set up man Jake Diekman managed to stanch the bleeding, but not before the Mariners scored two runs to cut the Rangers’ lead to 6-3.
Closer Sam Dyson was called upon to finish the proceedings in the bottom of the ninth, but even he had his problems shutting the door. Mariner shortstop Ketel Marte was on second base when second baseman Robinson Cano laced a two-out, two-hop line drive to the right field wall. Marte scored easily. Cano seemed to be on his way to an easy double with slugger Nelson Cruz coming up as the tying run.
What followed was one of the more impressive displays of arm strength in recent Texas Rangers’ history. Right fielder and rookie sensation Nomar Mazara gathered the ball and proceeded to fire a laser-guided dart to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who applied the quick tag to the sliding Cano. With that, the rally was squashed. Game over. Series over. Hello, win column.
The play was simply another example of the way the Rangers have been going about their business lately. It’s solid pitching. It’s timely situational hitting. It’s different guys stepping up on different nights. It’s guys waking up after protracted slumps. There’s something going on with this team that suggests something special.
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Admittedly, it’s still early. Injuries are also coming into play. News came down on Saturday that staff ace Yu Darvish will have an MRI to examine the shoulder and neck tightness that prematurely ended his Wednesday night in a rare loss to the Houston Astros. Third baseman Adrian Beltre pulled a hamstring in the same game. It was an “uh-oh” night for sure.
What is apparent about the Texas Rangers right now is that they previously fared fine without Darvish. Does that make Yu a luxury? Hardly, if aspirations of a World Series championship are the expectation. Given the depth of this club, it’s safe to assume that that’s the goal throughout the organization. A healthy Yu Darvish must be in place in order for the Rangers to achieve their ultimate prize.
It also warrants mentioning that a healthy Adrian Beltre may well be the second piece to the puzzle. For as great as the rest of the team has been for the past three weeks, the player affectionately known as “Belts” is the heart and soul of the product on the field. As he goes, so will the Texas Rangers.
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Injuries notwithstanding, what we’re seeing right now is a team that is playing inspired baseball. They’re incredibly good at doing the little things, and while those may not show up in the box score at the end of the night, it’s translating to a truckload of wins.