Last Place Rangers Convincingly Sweep First Place Astros

If before the season started you told me the Rangers would sweep the Astros in their first series in Houston, I probably would've been like, okay, so?

The thing is, the Astros as we've known them over the last five years aren't really the same team anymore. That whole rebuilding project was supposed to come to fruition at some point next year, but for some reason they decided that -- since the West was so mediocre -- they might as well just start now. Heading into Monday the Astros were 18-7, riding a 10-game winning streak, and carried a +37 run differential.

Texas, conversely, was straddling a different sort of wave heading into the series. Losers in 5 of its last 6 games, and 8 of 10, the Rangers were going nowhere fast, sporting one of the league's worst run differentials at the time (-28). 

Then, almost by some mistake, the actual games got played, and Texas outscored Houston 20-5 this week. Over a three-day stretch, Ross Detwiler (7 IP/1 ER), Wandy Rodriguez (8 IP/1 ER) and Colby Lewis (8 IP/1 ER) combined to throw 23 of the 27 innings during the series, surrendering just 3 runs on 13 hits in the process. Offensively, spring training legend Carlos Peguero (.239/.389/.548) broke out for 3 HRs, Kyle Blanks (.357/.400/.714) added on to his impressive debut with the club, and Shin-Soo Choo added his 2nd and 3rd home runs on the season to boot. For all the Rangers Fan Optimists who had faith in the unheralded spare parts -- like Detwiler, Peguero and Blanks -- or guys returning from injury -- Choo and Prince Fielder -- this series against the Astros offered as close as you are going to get to a best-case scenario in 2015. 

With the three-game sweep the Rangers improve to 11-16 on the season, leapfrogging them above Seattle into a tie with the Athletics (12-17) for 3rd place in the American League West, 6.5 games behind the Astros. Fact: through 24 games Houston held a 9.5-game advantage over Texas. Isn't baseball crazy?

I don't know how this season is going to turn out for the Rangers, but I feel like I have a pretty good idea. This series was not typical, neither in individual performance or overall result, and I look forward to those of you who read this article six months from now, or even three months from now, and appreciate as much as I do that your favorite baseball team won real games that actually counted in the standings, with names like Carlos Peguero, Wandy Rodriguez, and Ross Detwiler giving meaningful contributions.