A lot of good things have happened to the Texas Rangers the past week. In fact, outside of an anti-climactic bullpen blowup to end Cole Hamels debut on August 1st, the Rangers have won six of seven in a last minute effort to save their season and make a push at the American League Wild Card race.
Given the winning streak, the optimism surrounding the acquisition of Hamels as well as relievers Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson and the biggest factor of all: the bats are alive, and there’s plenty of reason for hope in North Texas.
The end game, even with the impending return of Derek Holland (***asterisks attached) and what looks like a return to form for Martin Perez, remains to try and capture one of the two Wild Card spots up for grabs in the competitive A.L. race. But, that race currently features the Angels and Trade Deadline darling Blue Jays in the two occupied spots. However, not far behind are the Orioles, the Twins (who are going in the wrong direction but still in the race), the Tampa Bay Rays, who you can’t help but root for on their tin can payroll, the Rangers, and the Tigers who, despite selling David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria at the Deadline, still have the talent to remain a factor. And then there’s a few teams who are literally too far away: the White Sox, Mariners and Indians.
But that’s not us. Let’s talk Rangers.
Aug 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez (38) congratulates Texas Rangers relief pitcher Sam Freeman (71) after the final out if the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Rangers achieved the .500 mark last night for the first time in exactly a month, squeaking by the Astros in a game the bullpen actually won. The club reached 53 wins to go with 53 losses, matching those totals for the first time since July 4th, when the team was 41-41 and in the midst of a five game losing streak and what appeared to be the tipping point in a season that felt like borrowed time in the first place.
For some reason, there’s been a huge resurgence lately. Pitching is everything in baseball, but the bats coming alive has fueled the Rangers return into the Playoff chase.
The Rangers have won six of their past seven and Texas has scored 43 runs in that span, over six a game. However, they’re allowing 33 runs in this short span as well. Even the glorified debut of Cole Hamels surrendered 5 runs. Yovani Gallardo has suddenly lost the ability to find the strike zones, and as dominant as Martin Perez was in his August 2nd start (8.1 IP, 1 run, 6 K) he was a total mess in his previous outing against the Yankees, giving up 8 runs in an inning in an eventual 21-5 loss to the Bronx Bombers.
Last night’s win was held onto by a very thin thread. Sam Freeman and Shawn Tolleson worked out of some serious jams, while Spencer Patton and Jake Diekman were great in bridging the gap between these two nail biting relief appearances. Gallardo went 5 innings of effective pitching, but leaving the rest of the game in the hands of the bullpen is, was, and always will be risky business here in 2015…perhaps longer due to the negligence of invested assets by management into the later innings.
Already we’ve seen the impact of Diekman and Dyson, Trade Deadline acquisitions, and yes the excitement surrounding Cole Hamels is very, very real in a city that loves its baseball and loves its Rangers. But, a 2015 race to the MLB Postseason is every bit a fairy tale.
Although, the best part of fairy tales, is that sometimes they come true.