39 days ago the Rangers were down 6 games in the AL West and things were looking pretty bleak. Luckily the great forward thinking baseball minds here at 162+ had taken a look at the schedule in the month of August and noticed only ONE team (those hated As) with a record above .500.
Now not only did they eliminate that deficit thanks in large part to a 20-7 record in said month of August, but they actually kept the A's at bay while maintaining a lead in the West that topped out at 3.
The Rangers finished the month by losing a winnable series at home against the Twins while only scoring 6 runs over the weekend; their only win coming on a walk off hit from Leonys Martin (whose transition into the lead off spot has really helped him and this Rangers offense blossom, by the way).
|My boy Leo. I called it!|
A weekend that began, mind you, with the Rangers up 3 games in West setting up a 3 game set in Oakland while the Rangers' lead in the West was down to a slim 1 game lead.
Which brings us to today...well, the Rangers lost 2 out of 3 to Oakland with only the first game having any measure of drama to it. The latter 2 games were more or less decided by the later innings. If you told me before the series that the only game we'd win was Martin Perez with Holland, Perez, and Darvish on the mound, AND the Rangers would lose Darvish's start 11-4, I probably wouldn't have believed you. Not that I don't have supreme confidence in Perez, he's been outstanding of late. He's won his last 6 starts and is 9-3 this season, not to mention his recent American League Rookie of the Month for August honors. The numbers don't lie. He finished the month 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA, 11 BB, & 26 SO in 35.1 innings pitched in 5 starts.
You really just couldn't have expected Holland and Darvish to be less than stellar in an albeit early, but important September series. The bullpen (Robbie Ross) didn't do Yu (get it? haha) any favors today, while Nick Tepesh looked pretty good in his return from the DL on Monday afternoon. What was noticeable today (and will probably prove to be nothing) was Darvish showing some measure of frustration on the mound; walking away from AJP (which I would no matter what he was saying actually haha) and Mike Maddux. It wasn't quite a CJ Wilson moment, but he still needed to buckle down there and get it together.
Again, also supreme confidence in Holland and Darvish. Our pitching (2nd in the AL) is what has made this team great in 2013 thanks in large part to Holland and Darvish. I don't need to tell you that Darvish is leading the world in strikeouts and has a top 5 ERA. It IS worth noting, however, that the Rangers are a sub .500 team in day games. It was peculiar to have 2 days games in this set, even if one of those days was labor day. Anyway, I digress. So, all of that being said...here's how we stand today...
Well, Ranger fans I've actually come here to praise the Rangers not to bury them. If I told you the before the season started that the Rangers would be deadlocked atop the West on September 4th would you take it? Would you? Given what all the baseball pundits and experts "claimed" we had lost in the offseason? I keep saying I don't need to remind you about the collapse of 2012, but I suppose that I now have to. Lets travel back to this date in 2012: The Rangers had a comfortable lead in the West with a record of 80-55 (80-62 in 2011 and 75-60 in 2010 for some perspective), while the A's were sitting at a 76-59 mark. The only record that mattered over the final month of the season was on the final day...the Rangers surrendered the West finishing 93-69 while the A's finished 94-68. Soooo, Math majors...that means the Rangers went 13-14 down the stretch and the A's went 19-9...COLLAPSE.
|Once again...not without a little help.|
What's interesting about the 2012 Texas Rangers is that despite winning the 4th most games in Rangers history (93) they were actually a mediocre 27-30 against the AL West. This included an 8-11 record against Oakland including a 2-5 mark after September. Contrast that with this year's Rangers and their 45-18 (!) record against the West and 9-6 mark against Oakland and you start to realize how truly dominant this team could have been last year if they had just handled business against their own division. Again...COLLAPSE.
Now most baseball experts like to talk about the lowly Astros and the 19 games the Rangers and A's get to play against them and the competitive advantage it supposedly gives us. The Rangers are 14-2 and the A's are 12-3 against them if you were wondering.
Well then I'd have to say to them how about we talk about the Mighty Angels for a second then? Weren't they supposed to be the no doubt AL representative in the World Series this year?
In case you didn't want to count, that's 31 "experts" that picked the Halos to win the West and 3 that actually had them winning the flippin World Series!!! Now that we're all in agreement that baseball 'experts' are idiots and the Angels suck, we can look at the A's 9-4 record and the Rangers' 10-2 record against them as proof positive.
|Yeah, yall have a losing record against Houston, guys. Good job!|
So who do the Rangers and A's play this weekend, you ask? Wouldn't you know it. The A's host the Astros for 4 and the Rangers are at Anaheim for 3. From there the A's have 6 games left against the Halos while the Rangers have 7 games left against the Halos (4) and Astros (3)...all 7 being the final games and homestand of the Rangers' season. The other 6 games left for the Rangers are against 2 difficult opponents (Pirates and Rays), while the A's have a cakewalk with 6 against the Twins.
This makes next weekend's 3 games in Arlington against Oakland kind of a big deal.
So while you're watching ESPN this month and they keep telling you that the Rangers are gonna collapse and the A's are unstoppable and Johnny Manziel is the devil...
Haha. More importantly you know that you've been reading 162+ all year and you know the #'s and recent history and you know this team has no quit in them...
139 down 23 to go...