Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It could be worse.

With 30 games left in the season, the Texas Rangers now find themselves 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card race and, pending tonight's action, either 4.5 or 5.5 games behind the Angels in the AL West. In other words, they're slipping---but only slightly. More accurately, the Red Sox have gotten hot. Since dropping 2 of 3 to Texas, the Sox have won 11 of 14 while Texas is just 8-8 over the same stretch. Playing .500 ball isn't exactly a summer swoon, but it's also not going to get it done.

Even so, there's still room for optimism. The Rangers continue to follow up tough losses with tough wins. Just when you think they're on the verge of a total collapse, they pull back from the precipice and renew this lonely fan's hope. Today was a perfect example. In last night's game against the Blue Jays, the Rangers trailed 11-0 half-way through the game. Ugh. Yet, astonishingly, they battled back to make it 11-10 in the 9th inning, nearly completing a miraculous comeback of historic proportions...only to give up 8 runs in the 9th inning and lose 18-10. Devastating. Throw in the towel. Worst loss of the season. The Rangers of old. Or was it? Today they played a double-header and won both games by a score of 5-2. THAT is certainly not the Rangers of old, and THAT is why they'll stick around.

Speaking of sticking around, I think my boy Neftali will be around for a good while. He pitched in one of those wins today---another two perfect innings of relief for him. His numbers are just sick right now. Check this out:

11 Games, 19.2 IP, 5 Hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 26 Ks

When was the last time you saw a 26:1 ratio of anything, let alone strikeouts to walks? Ridiculous. Oh, and in case you think he's getting used in easy situations, in those 11 games he's held a lead 8 times and earned a save in another. The dude is money.

Also money is Chris Davis. The Rangers welcomed him back from AAA last week and he's now hit safely in 7 of his 8 games, added 2 HRs, and had 9 RBIs over that stretch...not to mention great defense. Talk about a non-steroid shot in the arm.

10 of the next 13 games for the Rangers are against three of the league's worst teams. It's put up or shut up time. They need to take no fewer than 9 of those games to stay in it. Here's hoping.


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