The Texas Rangers are using an endearing combination of stubborn grit and a next-man-up mentality to stay firmly in the American League playoff picture.
As far as running tallies are concerned, it’s hard to nitpick the Texas Rangers and their record since the middle of May. To wit, after a loss in Kansas City on May 14th that dropped them to 17-22, the Rangers are 25-14. They’ve won eight of their past twelve series outright, tied three of them, and lost only one. Their 42-36 record has them a half game behind Cleveland for the second wild card in the American League.
Moreover, they’ve been able to sustain this pace while missing some key cogs in their lineup. Outfielders Joey Gallo, Hunter Pence, and Nomar Mazara have each missed time due to various injuries. While Mazara has returned to the lineup, Gallo and Pence are still out. Yet despite all of this–and having played twenty-one games in twenty days in the process–they’ve barely budged in the standings.
Specifically regarding Mazara, the guy has just been crushing the baseball since his brief stint on the injured list. This was highlighted by the stentorian bomb he launched in Friday night’s loss to the White Sox. It traveled an estimated 505 feet and was verified as the longest homer in the history of Globe Life Park. Not to be outdone, he also stroked two home runs in Saturday night’s 6-5 win, and even flashed a little leather in the process.
You also can’t overlook the contributions of shortstop Elvis Andrus or outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Both are having fantastic seasons at the plate and can be counted upon to deliver clutch hits in key situations. Couple in the offerings of role players like Danny Santana and the resurgent Delino DeShields, and you have a team that just continues to step up and win more often than they lose.
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The apparent bottom line is that this is who they are. They posted a 12-9 record in the aforementioned twenty-one game stretch. They accomplished this with some pretty gaping holes in their lineup. It’s time to come to terms with the notion that maybe this team isn’t overachieving after all. Maybe this was their lot in life from the get-go, and maybe it just took a little time for them to find their identity. Whatever the case, first-year manager Chris Woodward deserves a lot of credit for mostly pulling all the right levers in order to get the most out of this bunch. This particular squad is very reminiscent of the 2009 team that contended into September.
While I’m at it, it’s time to give General Manager Jon Daniels some credit for the construction of this year’s team. Up and down the batting lineup and in the pitching rotation, Daniels hit figurative home runs in acquiring players such as third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, Pence, pitcher Lance Lynn, and infielder Logan Forsythe. Sure there have been some clunkers (pitcher Drew Smyly), but the hit rate among these acquisitions has far exceeded the misses. This motley bunch with low expectations jelled a lot faster than anyone anticipated.
Of course, nothing’s been determined yet. The season is far from over, and if it ended today, the Rangers would be on the outside of the wild card picture looking in. A series against the woeful Tigers starts in Detroit on Tuesday. But the real test of this road trip will come against the Tampa Bay Rays starting on Friday. By then, Gallo and Pence should be back in the lineup, so there’s no reason this team can’t keep contending.
- Published on 06/24/2019 at 12:45 PM
- Last updated at 06/24/2019 at 12:45 PM