The division races are over in the American League. In the West, it’s been over since May 22, when the Astros took a six-game lead over the division, and their lead has only grown since then.
The Red Sox are comfortably settling into winning the East, and the Indians will coast to a second-consecutive Central division title.
So that leaves only the wild card. It’s a race nobody wants to win. Other than the Yankees, who have pretty consistently been at the top of the wild card heap, every other team is like convenience store hot dogs. Just spinning around and around and around in unappetizing fashion.
Nobody is going on a sustained run. They are all spinning in place. Win a few, lose a few. Take a series, drop a series.
The Rangers got their faint hopes up with a 7-3 home stand, but they are, in fact, just one for their last three, and two for their last five. Yes, that’s looking at a microcosm of the schedule. But, at this time of the season, when you are trying to gain a half-game’s worth of momentum, it’s all about microcosms.
It seems that every time the Rangers try to get above .500, they lose. Three times in the past week and their last five tries, going back to June 28.
They had their chance again last night, and sent out Tyson Ross, who actually pitched worse than his three earned runs in 3.2 innings would indicate. In his third start after his third DL stint, Ross has struggled mightily. The good news is, his time on the mound is shrinking each time out, from 5.1 innings, to 4.2, to 3.2. The bad news is, he keeps being allowed back on that mound.
In fact, if you look at his entire season, in ten starts he’s gone six innings once: 5.2, 3.0, 6.0, 5.0, 5.2, 3.1, 3.2, then the aforementioned 5.2, 4.1, 3.2. He has been the beneficiary of some good offense.
So after last night’s 10-1 loss to the Angels, the Rangers are where they have been for two weeks: sixth in the wild card race (5.5 games from the top) and fourth in line for the second wild card (3.0 games back). Tampa Bay is nipping at their heals on the strength of a monumental two-game winning streak.
It’s really not fair to characterize the 2017 Rangers as a .500 ball club when it has spent more than ninety percent of its season under .500.
You’re not a mountain climber if you can never get out of basecamp.
Andrew Cashner (7-9, 3.31) vs. Andrew Heaney (0-0, 9.00)
Game time: 9:07