The Texas Rangers have thus far displayed the maturity of a contender. However, recent injuries will test that mentality in the coming weeks.
The sample size is pretty impressive at this point. Since May 15th, the Texas Rangers are 21-11. They have won seven of their last ten series, and have only lost one of those series outright. The two series they tied in that stretch were against Oakland and Boston, both of which are in the same boat the Rangers are. That is, contending for the second wild card spot in the American League.
The fact that they’re contending at this juncture of the season is still pretty mind blowing. This wasn’t supposed to happen this year, so the longer the Rangers drag this out, the more fun it is to watch. They’ve also managed to sustain this hot streak without outfielder Joey Gallo, who suffered a strained oblique muscle during a June 1st win against Kansas City.
That they’ve been able to carry on without the alpha bat in the lineup is telling. Gallo is in the interrupted middle of a breakout campaign, so a lull in the win percentage might have been expected. To the contrary, the Rangers have utilized a next-man-up mentality, and have managed to hold on to that second wild card spot in spite of some heat from the Red Sox and the suddenly red-hot Indians.
But, the situation became a little muddied on Saturday night when outfielder Nomar Mazara was removed from the game after experiencing tightness in his right hamstring. The move was at first understood to be cautionary, but before game time on Sunday, it was reported that he’d be undergoing an MRI to further investigate the extent of the damage.
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To make matters worse, the resurgent Hunter Pence pulled up lame with an apparent groin injury in the fifth inning while sprinting to track down a fly ball. Pence came out of the game immediately, so it’s probably safe to assume that he’ll be down for an extended period. In a year where the Rangers haven’t been too snake-bitten by injuries, the toll incurred during the Cincinnati series has flipped that script quite profoundly. With Gallo out, and potentially Mazara and Pence, that’s a large chunk of their arsenal. If we’re looking for the other shoe to drop–and face it, as Rangers fans, we always are–then this might be where the bottom falls out.
Forgive me if the pessimist comes out at the first hint of trouble. Old habits die hard. For all we know, the injuries to Mazara and Pence may not be as bad as first thought. Easier to see in Mazara’s case than it is in Pence’s, but if they can weather the storm until Gallo’s return, then maybe this is much ado about nothing. Injuries happen in the course of a season. You’d rather not seen them occur in clusters like this, but such is life. No one’s feeling sorry for them.
Of course, things don’t get any easier. The aforementioned Cleveland Indians are in town for a critical four-game series that will further impact the wild card picture. The true character of a team is revealed when they’re facing the harshest adversity. And right now, this is where the Texas Rangers find themselves. They either buck up and meet it head on, or they wilt under the pressure everyone told them was coming.
- Published on 06/17/2019 at 11:00 AM
- Last updated at 06/17/2019 at 06:13 AM