The Texas Rangers have won 11 straight games, the second best streak in club history. Blake Hurtik has not yet blogged/Tweeted/Facebook-status’d about this yet. Coincidence?
I think not.
My cyber silence on the issue has been partly due to a busy schedule and partly self-imposed. I didn’t want to jinx it. But I am comfortable enough with how this team has been playing that I don’t think I can do much hard. I believe (and really, really, really hope) that the Rangers have moved beyond the reach of superstition and have started to become masters of their own destiny.
And this is a good thing.
I had the good fortune to take in two games over the last week. The 9-3 shellacking of the Astros in Houston last Friday and the 6-3 win over the Pirates at the Temple on Tuesday. Both left me feeling confident, encouraged and content–not normal feelings for a Rangers’ fan, no matter how well they are playing.
Here’s what I think are the biggest signs of why this team could be the real deal:
1. Starting pitching- Much has been made of the Ranger bullpen during this streak. True, they have been lights out (I want an Ogando shirt, like, now) but the starters have been just as solid. Colby Lewis is turning into a bonafide ace it seems, giving up just four earned runs over his last three starts–all wins. But what Colbyashi, and the rest of the Rich Harden-less staff s doing now, is eating innings. Even troubled Scott Feldman has given the Rangers at least 5 2/3 innings in each start since May 9. This is especially impressive considering he’s pitched pretty terribly (he’s given up at least four runs in six of the nine starts over that span). He’s proven he can grind.
What it means: A pitching staff going deep into games creates a solid bullpen. A well-rested bullpen is a good bullpen. And Rich Harden sucks.
2. The Ballpark Bashers- I just invented that nickname. What are you going to do about it? It’s what I’m going to start calling the Rangers lineup because, more and more, it seems that there are no weak spots in this lineup. With Nellie Cruz back and Justin Smoak hitting his stride, opponents don’t catch a break until they get to Matt Treanor (and even he’s been clutch as of late). Don’t forget about Julio Borbon, who was threatening to have the Mendoza Line renamed that Borbon Line earlier in the year. He’s now rocking a .292/.320/.380 line. Oh, and I was literally four seats away from catching his second homer of the year. You can see me here looking like a doofus if you try hard enough.
3. Matt Treanor- I never thought I’d say this, but I’m satisfied with Treanor being the everyday catcher, and not just because he hit that game winning triple against the Marlins. The guy is a scrapper–a true glue dude. You need guys like him in the clubhouse. His dive into a brick wall to try to catch a pop fly typified this. And I’m OK with his .227 AVG and .304 OBP. That’s just as good or better than what Salty ever gave Texas. Should the Rangers (barring not having any money) look for another catcher? Sure. But is Chris Ianetta really the answer? I don’t think so.
Also, I pledge to stop calling you Matty May Treanor, Matty May. Dammit, sorry.
4. Jon Daniels- The dude should be MLB Exec of the Year a billion times over. So glad he was given time to build this team and some second chances after a couple of terrible miscues (Chris Young, Soriano and Danks trades).
5.Vladimir Guerrero- I simply love everything about the guy, even how he looks like his legs are about to fall off at the hip every time he runs. I also love hearing drunk people at the Ballpark try to pronounce his name: “Let’s go Vlow-duh-mooor Gear-rarrh-uhhh.”
Notice how I did not say Ron Washington (I give him credit for not messing anything up, sticking with Smoak and Borbon, but I need prolonged success to really come around on Wash) or Nolan Ryan (Nolan is the godfather of the operation, but I am not ESPN and I know more about the Rangers than just “Nolan Ryan sure makes these pitchers throw a lot.”).
Did I mention Rich Harden sucks?
*Not really, because ESPN already did by asking if the Rangers will win the World Series on PTI.