One thing about dealing craps between 11 AM and 7 PM in a desert city an hour from my house, is it coincides awfully with what time the Rangers reach California television sets. Putting in 10-12 hour days 4-5 times a week hasn't allowed me to consume very much baseball while it's live, let alone being able to write about it with much verve in my off time. So for that, I'm sorry I can't be more on the ball.
This past weekend Texas secured a home series win by taking two out of three against the Giants, though it could have been a sweep about as easily as San Fran could have taken 2 of 3. From that standpoint, it was an odd weekend.
On Friday night, Nick Martinez out-dueled last year's World Series MVP, Madison Bumgarner, by throwing his first decent start (6.1 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 4 K, 2 BB) in I can't remember how long. (Okay I had to look it up: the last time Nick threw at least 6 innings and allowed 3 ER or less was June 20th against the White Sox.) Bumgarner allowed HRs to Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus (!).
Saturday, Cole Hamels made his Rangers debut, going 7.2 IP allowing 5 ER on 8 hits. The Rangers held a 7-4 advantage going into the 9th, but that quickly dissipated after Tanner Scheppers -- probably Texas's most hopeless reliever in 2015 -- gave up 3 runs on 2 hits without recording an out. San Francisco won it in the 11th.
Yesterday Martin Perez captured our imaginations with a brilliant performance -- 8.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER -- though, strangely was lifted in the 9th at only 80 pitches. Hard to fathom. Jake Diekman, who'd thrown the two days prior, promptly walked Nori Aoki on 4 pitches, and Jeff Banister called on Texas's other new acquisition, Sam Dyson.
Dyson allowed back-to-back singles, one by Matt Duffy to load the bases, the other a Buster Posey RBI single to left, making it 2-1. With the bases loaded and a 2-0 count, and with the Rangers bullpen poised to undo a surefire win for the second time in less than 24 hours, Hunter Pence banged a friendly two-hopper to Elvis Andrus for the game-ending double play.
Escaping with the win, the Rangers are back to 2 games below .500, and only 3.0 out of the second wild card spot. A lot of analysts pegged Texas as an afterthought, even after acquiring Cole Hamels, largely because they had 6 teams they needed to leapfrog for the WC2, even though they were only separated by 5 games at the time.
Odds are stacked against the Rangers to make the postseason -- I'd probably wager something in the 6/1 or 8/1 territory at the moment -- but the same is true for them as it is for all the other postseason contenders: someone is going to have to win 15 out of 20, or 27 out of 40 down the stretch, to get there. Do I think that's going to be the Rangers? Probably not. But the thought that it's August and there's still a chance has to be worth something.