"You don't disrespect the game of baseball."- Dallas Keuchel, July 19, 2015 in reference to the Texas Rangers
Keuchel said that after completing a 13 strikeout shutout of the Rangers, the night after an interaction between Rougned Odor and Hank Conger started a shoving match between the Rangers and Astros.
The night that it became ever-apparent that Roogie will not back down from anyone.
The night that Adrian Beltre made it clear that it is his clubhouse and that no one can try to bully the youth on the roster.
The night that Jeff Banister made it clear that he has the players backs and he means business.
The night that ended with the Rangers setting at 43-48 on the season and the Astros clearly dominating the AL West.
Oh, how things have changed.
Since the Rangers lost to Dallas Keuchel on July 19, the Rangers have posted a record of 35-19, completely turning around the season for the current AL West leaders (1.5 games, 78-67).
That night, that dust up, those quotes; they all marked a change in this Texas Rangers team. It is often hard to find a turning point in a season of ups and downs, but the 2015 Rangers have two that are quite evident: the scuffle with the Astros and the beating from the Yankees. Occasionally, teams just need a little kick start to find their stride.
Last night, the Rangers came out with an edge that was evident from the first at bat. As Delino Deshields beat out an infield single to SS (which is quite a feat when the shortstop is Carlos Correa), the Rangers bench erupted as if he had hit a homerun. The motivation and fire was there; the edge was contagious.
As the inning went on, it was beautiful watching the reactions of the players as if this was game 7 of a playoff series. As each run scored, the celebration got bigger. When Prince Fielder hit his RBI single, Roogie and Andrus sprinted to the front of the dugout to greet Deshields as he crossed the plate. As Mike Napoli went yard, the dugout was bouncing as if it were a walkoff. When Roogie added in his 2-run bomb, I was fairly sure that he was going to jump over the dugout.
Last night, everyone played with that edge, it was not limited to Rougned Odor. The only thing that was "disrespected" last night was the Cy Young level ERA of Dallas Keuchel.
According to Jason Stark, Keuchel had gone 58 starts without giving up 6 runs in a game. Last night, the Rangers scored six off of him in the first inning.
And they weren't even close to being done.
Keuchel game up 9 runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3, causing his ERA to rise from 2.22 to 2.56.
The Rangers went on to put up 14 runs on the evening, including 5 homeruns (if you have a chance to watch the clip of Prince's second homerun, notice how closely the bat is flipped in front of Conger......).
This team is fun. This team is doing things that no one expected them to do. This team is doing things that people are still denying (Still looking at you, Dave Cameron).
This team has an edge and they are nowhere close to being done yet.
Colby Lewis hits the hill tonight, hot off of his 97 pitch complete game shutout.
Sweep the damn series. Don't look back.
"This is not an exhale moment. This is putting a foot down, continue to do your yard work, stay focused moment"- Jeff Banister