The Ranger offense managed 8 runs against one of baseball’s most dominant starting pitchers, Chris Sale, and Martin Perez navigated through a rough first couple innings to help give Texas its 19th win in 23 games.
There has been growing noise in recent weeks highlighting the Rangers inability to hit home runs, even in spite of their success in the win column. On Friday night they hit 5 of them — a season-high — with 4 coming off Chris Sale, a new career-high for HRs allowed. (One of the homers credited against him was a bush league inside-the-parker off the bat of Ian Kinsler, which I’m certainly not complaining about, but it’s nonetheless worth mentioning, in fairness to Sale.) This is the 3rd time in their last 5 games Texas has plated double-digits in runs, and in that span has outscored its opponents 54-18 (+36).
In a “welcome home” game of sorts, A.J. Pierzynski went 1-4 with a single and a sac-fly, and Alex Rios pumped out a couple base hits. Aside Leonys Martin, every Ranger in the starting lineup got at least one hit, which includes Adam Rosales‘s first hit in a Texas uniform, a two-run jimmy-jack to left.
Platoon righties Jeff Baker, Craig Gentry and Rosales finished the night a collective 3-7 with two HRs, a HBP and 4 RBI. The Rangers 6-9 hitters ended up 6-14 with 3 HRs and 7 of the club’s 11 runs batted in.
On the heels of 4 consecutive quality starts, toting 7.1 (1 ER), 6.1 (2 ER), 9.0 (1 ER) and 7.0 (3 ER) innings, respectively, Martin Perez was shaky at the outset of Friday’s game. Over the first 2 innings he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits and a walk; from that point forward he allowed only 1 run, on only 2 hits, walking one. He finished his night having set 9 straight White Sox down, including 12 of the last 13. It took awhile, but he found it.
As of this moment it’s the 21st of August; there isn’t a shitload of time remaining between now and the conclusion of the regular season. If you follow this blog with any sort of consistency between now and then, you are very likely to see updates in the standings.
So … here we go:
With Oakland’s loss in Baltimore on Friday night, the Rangers lead in the American League West has reached 3.5 games. As I’ve written at some length in recent weeks, Texas is in the midst of the cupcake part of its 2013 schedule right now, while the Athletics are in the all-hands-on-deck portion of theirs. After this weekend in Chicago, the Rangers will take on the Mariners in Seattle before a slight 3-game home stand against the Twins. The A’s, on the other hand, still have two more in Baltimore before playing Detroit and Tampa Bay.
It’s not inconceivable that the Rangers could open up a 6.0- or 7.0-game lead before September 2nd, the next time Texas and Oakland meet one another.
As it stands, Texas is even with Detroit (75-53) for the best record in the American League, and, according to FanGraphs, is projected to finish the regular season with a record of 93-69, same as last year. Oakland, conversely, is assumed to finish 90-72.
Baseball Prospectus, for what it’s worth, sees it the same way, with Texas at a projected 92.7 wins (93) and Oakland at 89.7 (90). BP also has the Rangers projected odds of winning the West ballooned up at 77.3%, with its odds of reaching the postseason in some capacity at 92.8%.
Simply put, get your popcorn ready.