Last season’s American League MVP Miguel Cabrera stole the show with a 3-HR performance, but it was the Rangers who bested the Tigers, both on Sunday night and over the duration of the 4-game weekend series. It was a long, partly hopeless, partly exciting, partly nerve-racking conclusion to the series against arguably baseball’s most talented team.
And somehow, the Rangers took 3 of 4, vaulting their record to a best-in-baseball 29-15; with Oakland coming to Texas tomorrow, the division lead stands at +6.5 games.
It was a warm, windy night in Arlington on Sunday. Before the game started I sensed the only thing that would keep it from being an all-out slugfest was the quality of the starting pitchers — Derek Holland and Doug Fister — but even they weren’t up to the task. Neither made it through 5 innings and between them they combined to throw 219 pitches.
Holland gave up 4 runs on 8 hits, yielding 3 walks (yuck) in just 4.2 IP. It bumps his ERA up to 3.30 on the season, though part of me just wants to say, yeah, well, shit happens on weird weather nights like this in Arlington. The other part of me says this is 3 below-average starts in a row for someone of Derek’s caliber, so we may be witnessing some regression compared to how ace-like he was in his first 5 outings.
Conversely, the Ranger offense has slowly been creeping up the league leader-boards in recent weeks. Heading into Sunday night’s game where they plated 11 runs on a season-high-tying 18 hits, they were 6th in MLB in wRC+ (104) and 3rd in wOBA (.339).
And strangely, in a lineup with no Josh Hamilton and no Mike Napoli, the Rangers are leading the American League in home runs with 58 — the 58th being struck by Murphy on a two-out, 3-2 pitch that he lifted into the right field seats, giving the Rangers a lead they ultimately would not relinquish.
On Sunday, The Rangers’ 2-3-4 hitters combined to go 9-13 with 2 2B’s, 1 HR and 8 of the team’s 11 RBI. Geovany Soto added 3 hits and a near-grand-slam fly out to Andy Dirks, who barreled across the warning track into the wall to rob him; Mitch Moreland added two more hits, and currently leads all the Texas regulars in wRC+ (140), and is tied with Ian Kinsler in total fWAR (+1.1).
Lastly, since we’re beyond the 1/4 marker in the season, let’s take a look at who we’ve played and who we’ve beaten. In bold I will indicate which series’ we’ve won; I’ll italicize the splits, and leave the series losses in normal text like you are reading at this exact moment.
CHI (White Sox)
Basically, if we look at each series like it’s a game itself, the Rangers have a series record of 9 wins, 2 losses and 3 ties.
Something my dad used to tell me was “Win 2 out of 3 at home and play .500 on the road and you’ll make the playoffs.” [It equates to about 94 wins.] Getting older, I never know how much of what he told me were baseball secrets that only he had figured out, or if it was already common knowledge for everyone. Either way, that’s back when I used to soak up any baseball-related information like a worn sponge, so it really doesn’t matter how I drew my conclusions. Baseball was ripe and still so much fun to learn about.
Currently, the Rangers have the best record in baseball (29-15), the best run differential (+54), the highest odds of making it to the postseason (88.8%), the largest division lead (+6.5 games), and the best record at home (14-5).
Tomorrow things get even more exciting with the Oakland A’s in town, and Jurickson Profar as the starting 2nd baseman for your Texas Rangers.