It's just a bit ironic that I wrote about the Rangers baserunning woes just yesterday, pointing out that they'd been the worst team in baseball on the bases this season. Less than 12 hours later, they went out and had what was most likely their most successful night on the basepaths, stealing 6 bags, 5 of which turned into runs. The defense was pretty good too.
Possibly the most intriguing part of it all was that Leonys Martin, who was moved into the leadoff spot after the Rangers struggled coming out of the All-Star break, accumulated 3 of the stolen bases on the night, one in which he beat out a pitch-out to swipe second base.
In 2010 and 2011, when the Rangers played in the World Series, the team was built around the type of offense we saw last night. Sure, those teams had Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli (in 2011), but neither team had the depth or talent of this season's pitching staff.
Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson were the high points back then, whereas now, the Rangers turn to Yu Darvish on a consistent basis. Derek Holland has become one of the most reliable starters in baseball. Matt Garza is in Texas at least through this season. Martin Perez holds his own and shows flashes of dominance. Matt Harrison is looking to return later this month.
When it comes down to it when you compare the 2013 version of the Texas Rangers to the World Series teams, this team is remarkably the same while still being different. Speed and defense will be the focal points to any successful run, but at the same time, any display of power is welcome.
Now within 1.0 game of Oakland in the AL West, Texas has one more game against the Angels tonight before heading to Houston for a four-game series. Then, Texas will be back home to face Milwaukee twice, Seattle three times, and Houston three times. Without boring you by going into the schedule too much further, it's worth noting that Rangers opponents for the next 22 games before the next series against Oakland -- including tonight's game against the Angels -- are a combined 279-392, good for a .416 winning percentage. During the same stretch, Oakland will have games against Cincinnatti, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay.
In a sense, it feels like the Rangers have already put their toughest stretch of the season behind them, and that the AL West is theirs to lose. At the same time, while it may look great on paper, the team still needs to show up an execute, and I'm a lot more confident in that today than I was back at the end of July.
For now, however, I'd settle for the Rangers getting back even in the standings with Oakland tonight. Baby steps, baby steps.