Today, the Rangers completed their 7-day, 6-game west coast road-trip through Oakland and Anaheim. The results? Not as desired; the club concluded the stretch with 2 wins and 4 losses. The axiom in baseball is: “Win 2 out of 3 at home; play .500 ball on the road.” Indeed, Texas has established itself as a super road team in 2013 — their 42-32 record is tops in MLB, in that regard — but this most recent week we saw the unit perform about as poorly as they’ve been all year, and it came at arguably the most critical stretch of the schedule.
Yeah, sure, this is the time of year where every game could, in some way, be considered “must-win,” every series more important than the last. But no matter what the Rangers do between now and the end of the regular season, they have, at the very least, guaranteed themselves a better-than .500 record on the road, so all that’s left to be determined is how many more wins they can accumulate above that threshold. As it stands, they have only 7 games left away from The Ballpark — 4 in Tampa Bay, 3 in Kansas City — meaning the time is now to make hay while the sun is still shining in Arlington.
The Rangers played 6 games last week; here were the pitchers who started those games:
– Derek Holland
And, of course, one of the two wins came the day Martin Perez pitched in Oakland, and the other, on Sunday, when Nick Tepesch started.
Last week I wrote about Holland’s struggles, Friday I made reference for the four-thousandth time what the deal is with Matt Garza, and if you throw out Yu Darvish’s clunker of an outing, you are left with two rookie pitchers winning baseball games when, in reality, if guys like Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison were healthy, they may not have even seen big league action in 2013.
Baseball is an equal-opportunity sport built on talent (first and foremost), variance, and luck, but in no particular order. It seems like the lineup discriminates against Yu Darvish in the run support department, but then they make up for it on days where Martin Perez pitches. In other words, the wins will show up, eventually, but you can’t predict when they will come. And that’s why this sport has been, is, and always will be the game for the intelligent fan, because with some much uncertainty, the possibilities are endless, and we will spend our entire lives trying to reduce the mystery.
After not allowing more than 4 runs in a game since July 30th — a span covering 32 games, the longest in the American League since 1972 — the Rangers allowed 11 runs, 6 runs, and 8 runs in successive games, figures that could not be supplemented by a league-average offense. In 6 games, Texas allowed 33 runs (5.5 runs/game) while the offense mustered only 22 (3.5 runs/game). That, in a nutshell, is a losing recipe, and as a byproduct the Rangers have ceded 2.5 games (2 in the loss column) to the A’s in the standings.
Still, even after one of the most un-fun weeks of the year, the Rangers only trail the division leader by one game in the loss column. That may not have been our expectation, but that is the reality, and it could be a lot worse. Or maybe I’m still trying to convince myself it could be a lot worse.
There are 20 games left on the 2013 schedule, and this week begins perhaps the stiffest portion. After 3 with the Pirates, Texas hosts Oakland for 3 before heading on their final road-trip through Tampa and KC. I would rather not make dire proclamations for what must happen for this team to supplant the A’s in the AL West, but it would be damn sweet to win 4 of the next 6, and somehow manage a 4-3 record on the road. An 8-5 record over these next 13 games puts the Rangers in position to handle business at home against the Angels and Astros to conclude the regular season.
For that to happen, Texas can’t afford seeing Derek Holland dick around like he has over his last 5-6 starts, will need Yu Darvish to continue being Yu Darvish, and, hey, maybe even Matt Garza will show us something.
Anyway, get good sleep tonight. These next 3 weeks could get wild.