Quietly Going About Their Business
The Rangers may have finished the 10-game home stand finale Sunday on a sour note with a 16-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, but the real numbers to focus on are 7-3.
As in, winning 70 percent of 10 home games against teams you should beat. That’s how you put yourself in position to win a division over a 162-game marathon.
“We’re definitely satisfied with the way things came out, “ Manager Ron Washington said on the home stand after Sunday’s game. “We won each series. If we can just keep winning series, we’ll be fine.”
It’s so cliché and so true. One day at a time. Yes, more cliché. Let the wins pile up and things will take care of themselves.
Texas didn’t get off to a great start to the season at 4-5, though it wasn’t disaster either. But after the home stand, the Rangers sit with a record of 11-8, much needed when the Oakland A’s are 13-5. The teams have the two best records in the American League.
You can’t win the division in the first month, but you certainly can lose it. Just ask the 2013 LA Angels.
Texas begins an important three-game series at Oakland Monday night and also host the A’s next week. Win at least one of these series and you set yourself up for even bigger series with Oakland later in the season.
Two players stepped up during the 7-3 home stand, among others – third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and catcher Robinson Chirinos.
Kouzmanoff has done an admirable job filling in for the injured Adrian Beltre, hitting .393 with five doubles, two home runs and nine RBis. He snapped a 10-game hitting streak on Sunday, his first contest without a hit in his brief Rangers career. Kouzmanoff has made the entire team forget about Beltre’s absence, which is exactly what he is supposed to do.
Chirinos’ play has been very good over this home stand. For openers, the Rangers went 5-0 in games he played; Texas is 7-2 this season in contests that Cherinos starts. He’s hitting .235 with a .738 on-base percentage and two home runs.
Overall, the Rangers are in decent shape. Now imagine if this team gets healthy. Texas leads Major League Baseball in players on the disabled list with 10. Beltre is eligible to be activated on Friday and pitcher Matt Harrison is close to returning to the mound. He had a strong rehab start in Frisco over the weekend and is champing at the bit to get back out there. Harrison is on the road trip with the Rangers but Washington has not decided when to roll him out for his 2014 debut.
Speaking of pitching, the Rangers have gotten off to an excellent start in that category (giving up 16 runs on Sunday not withstanding). Texas has a Major League-best five shutouts, including four in the last 10 contests. Entering Sunday, the only other MLB teams in the division era (since 1969) with at least five shutouts in the first 17 games of a season are the 1969 Orioles (five), the 1981 Rangers (six), and the 1990 Brewers (five).
Not too shabby. Now imagine the possibilities if Derek Holland and Harrison come back healthy and Prince Fielder starts hitting like he is more capable of.