After a July to forget, the Texas Rangers seem to have found their stride again and look to push back into wild card contention.
For the Texas Rangers, the July 31st trade deadline came and went without any big names moving. In the lead-up to that day, speculation ran rampant over which players might get dealt. Truth be told, the team played like it, too. In a year where almost everything had been going right, July provided a harsh lesson in how a season can go south in the span of a bad month.
It wasn’t just a breakdown in one aspect of their game, either. Seemingly overnight, the team forgot how to pitch and hit simultaneously. It culminated in a season-long eight-game losing streak between July 13th and 21st. Finally, the Rangers were regressing to the mean. Visions of sneaking into the playoffs more or less died with that streak.
But, as the calendar turned to August and the aforementioned deadline passed, the Rangers appear to have found their mojo once again. I’ve talked in this space before about the beauty of playing with an uncluttered mind. And once it became apparent that pitchers Mike Minor and Lance Lynn were staying put, and players like Nomar Mazara and Hunter Pence weren’t going anywhere, it’s like a switch went off. The eyeball test alone suggests this bunch is playing unencumbered baseball, and their current five-game winning streak bears that out.
It would also be remiss to neglect the impact that embattled second baseman Rougned Odor has had on this team lately. After going through an awful first half of the season, Odor has regained a goodly measure of his trademark swagger. In the last two weeks alone, he’s batting .317 with a .756 slug and 1.173 OPS. It short, he’s been raking. So when he was able to end Saturday night’s game against Detroit with a walk-off solo shot, it just felt good to see him succeed after what he’s been through this year.
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Now, before anyone gets ahead of themselves here, the playoffs are still a long shot. As of right now, they’re six games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild card spot. Not only that, they’d have to leap the Red Sox and Athletics to even think about making a serious push. But stranger things have happened, and there’s still roughly thirty percent of the season left (50 games). Ask any team that’s lost a big lead in the waning stages of the regular season. It can happen quick, and it’s really difficult to pull out of a prolonged tailspin. The only thing the Rangers need to do is recapture the form that made them surprise contenders back in May and June.
Easier said than done, obviously, but then there’s this. As SportsDay’s Evan Grant wrote, Hunter Pence spoke to the team before last night’s game against Cleveland. He implored to team to stay together. Further, manager Chris Woodward was quoted as saying “We’ve got a ‘we’re doing this together’ kind of attitude.” In this age of cynicism, such a message might appear hokey, but it’s good to hear that these guys are still bought in. Even with the July swoon, this team is still exceeding expectations, and that bodes well for the remainder of this season, not to mention the transition to the new park next year.
So don’t give up on these guys just yet. We’re getting to that time of year where a certain high-profile football team is about to steal everyone’s attention away until December–and hopefully beyond. But if you’re ignoring the Rangers as also-rans, you’re doing so at your own peril. These guys fight their tails off, and if they can continue this recent run of good play, they might have a few surprises in store for us.
- Published on 08/06/2019 at 11:03 AM
- Last updated at 08/06/2019 at 11:03 AM