Adrian Beltre went 4-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and a walk, and Martin Perez (3-1) pitched effectively enough for the Rangers (53-37) to capture an 8-4 victory against the Orioles on Tuesday night. With Oakland’s (54-37) 2-1 win in Pittsburgh, Texas remains a half-game back in the AL West.
Beltre has been brilliant in the month of July, owner of a blitzing .567/.667/1.267 triple slash line, with 6 home runs and 10 RBI in that span.
Martin Perez wasn’t as sharp as his 3 previous starts, but in 6.0-plus innings he kept Baltimore down long enough for his offense to seize control of the game. The bottom line reads that Martín surrendered 4 runs (2 ER) on 6 hits, striking out 4 and walking 1, though his defense didn’t help his cause — committing 3 errors behind him. In 4 starts since being recalled from Round Rock, Perez has allowed just 4 ER in 25.0 IP (1.44 ERA) with a 14:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and quietly has turned himself into Texas’s 3rd-best rotation option (at the moment).
Which reminds me: Josh Lindblom is starting Wednesday’s game.
Ian Kinsler has hits in 9 consecutive games, though his slash numbers look logically disproportionate, with a solid average (.344), an exceptional OBP (.531), and fairly low SLG (.438). In any respect you’d take those figures from your leadoff hitter any day of the week. It should come as no shock that Kinsler’s recent on-base resurgence has coincided with the Rangers scoring at least 8 runs in 4 out of their last 5 games.
Essentially what it comes down to, is if Texas has Beltre, Kinsler, and Nelson Cruz all functioning at or around the top of their respective game — all at the same time — the Rangers become a bitch of a team to deal with. I’m not talking about someone cutting you off on the freeway-type of a bitch, I’m talking about a real, heartless, ice cold bitch.
Having won 5 of their last 6 games, and producing optimally as an offensive unit for the first time all season, the Rangers are truly a spectacle to observe when all gears are working properly, which I can easily appreciate for the mere fact that I know this kind of offensive blaze will — like all things in life and in baseball — fizzle out eventually. Hot streaks are transient, but at least I can say I know what it looked like.
Basically, the concept of the Ranger lineup is to add some kind of tension to the pitching staff at all times. No shit, right? That’s what all offenses attempt to accomplish. The difference between this Texas lineup compared to lineups of the past, is the juxtaposition between the middle of the lineup vs. the top and bottom. Let me explain;
In a given starting 9, you’d be looking at Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre hitting 3rd and 4th, some form of A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland batting 5th or 6th, and maybe David Murphy in the 7 spot. The middle of the order — or at least the slots I listed above — all consist of hitters designed to drive the ball.
The other holes — those being Ian Kinsler (leadoff), Elvis Andrus (2nd/8th/9th), Leonys Martin (8th/9th) and Jurickson Profar (2nd/8th/9th) — are players who possess average or better-than-average speed on the base-paths. Granted, Kinsler (especially), Martin and Profar all generate value hitting for extra bases to boot, but for the most part the lineup is designed for this collection of players to get on base, and for the middle of the order to knock them in.
Generally you see lineups with more power than speed, or more speed than power, but if you had to stack the Rangers against the norm of their history, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more balanced 1-9. It might not be as sexy in the box score, but it’s the type of mix that can create some serious havoc when the postseason rolls around.
Anyway, like I said, this won’t last forever. But it’s here now, so why not kick back and enjoy the part of “It was fun while it lasted,” while it’s actually happening?