The Texas Rangers flirted briefly with the top wild card spot in the American League before falling short, but still managed a winning road trip.
As fun as the last month-and-change has been for the Texas Rangers, a series loss was inevitable. No team goes through the entire year winning series at the pace they have since mid May. It started off so well, too. Pitcher Lance Lynn took the mound on Friday night and scattered three hits while striking out ten over eight superb innings in a dominant 5-0 win.
That win ran the Rangers winning streak to six games. It helps that they swept a Detroit Tigers team that looked like they’d rather be anywhere else but a ballpark. But that’s Detroit’s problem. For the Rangers, they still have to go out and beat who’s on their schedule. And with the American League in the current shape it’s in, there are more than a handful of teams that classify as just terrible squads.
The Rangers, to their credit, have been able to do what good teams do. Namely, they’ve simply been feasting on bad teams. Since May 14th, they are 22-9 against teams with sub .500 records. The other thing they’re doing is largely holding serve against the teams in proximity to them in the wild card race. What it amounts to at this moment is the second wild card spot and a 46-38 record as the All Star break looms.
The other encouraging aspect of this run of winning baseball is the pitching. Staff ace Mike Minor has been nothing short of brilliant this season. He hurled a complete game gem last Wednesday in a 5-1 win over the Tigers, and is currently maintaining a career-low 2.40 ERA this year. The other premier arm, Lance Lynn, stymied the Rays on Friday night through eight innings en route to his tenth win of the campaign.
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Furthermore, the back half of the rotation has been relatively solid. Ariel Jurado, Jesse Chavez, and Adrian Sampson have provided their team a chance to win on most nights. The only wobble from this bunch was from Chavez and Sampson on Saturday and yesterday, respectively. Granted, they were pitching to a playoff-caliber lineup, but both games got away from them in spurts. Neither one was a blowout, but both did not succeed in shutting the Rays down when they needed it. This was fully in focus yesterday when Sampson couldn’t hold the lead right after the Rangers had gone up on Joey Gallo’s bomb in the top of the fourth inning.
Also, while I’m nitpicking, I have to question the effort at the plate yesterday. It’s one thing to lose to the reigning American League Cy Young winner in Blake Snell. He surely kept the Ranger lineup off balance for most of the afternoon. But even as the Rays’ bullpen took over, they collectively managed to pull off seventeen strikeouts on this free-swinging Texas lineup. There were no walks issued. It would be nice to see a higher level of grind against a team that’s considered one of the better teams in the American League.
But if that’s all that’s wrong with this bunch right now, then life is mostly right. It’s hard to find many faults with a team that’s lost only two of their last fourteen series. They’ve got a tester at home against the Angels before a monster series at Minnesota before the break. If they can pull off a winning record on that stretch, as they did on this road trip, then the Rangers will be a factor into August, and probably beyond.
- Published on 07/01/2019 at 12:02 PM
- Last updated at 07/01/2019 at 11:03 AM