It wasn’t always pretty, but Cole Hamels limited the Detroit Tigers to two earned runs in six innings to walk away with his first victory as a Texas Ranger, as Texas won three of four from Detroit.
On June 17 the Rangers beat the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw 5-3 in a game Joey Gallo homered off the Los Angeles ace.
With that win, they sat just 2.5 games out of first (actually having inched as close as 1.5 out four days earlier).
The huge hole they dug themselves into at the beginning of the season was followed by an incredible climb. Since their 7-15 start on May 1, the Rangers went 29-15 and rose to six games over .500.
They would never get to seven over. Because, after that zenith came another freefall. A monumental one.
Exactly one month after Gallo homered off Kershaw, on July 17, the Rangers lost to the Astros to drop to five under, and 7.0 games back. Three days later, they would lose to Colorado on a Tanner Scheppers ninth-inning meltdown to sink as low as six games under.
A twelve game swing in a little over a month.
It wouldn’t get much better.
On July 28 they lost to the Yankees 21-5, their third loss in a row, to fall 8.0 games back.
That is when they could have folded up their tent and called it a season. Instead, they caught fire. That day, the Rangers announced a trade for Cole Hamels and Sam Diekman, then Sam Dyson. Tanner Scheppers and Leonys Martin were jettisoned.
Out with the deadwood, in with fresh arms for the bullpen.
And just like that, the 12-22 run was followed by the 17-7 run they are currently on, after having just won three out of four in Detroit against the Tigers, including 4-2 yesterday in a game Mitch Moreland turned around with a two-run double, giving Cole Hamels his first Rangers victory.
All of a sudden, the Rangers are back in the race. Second in the AL West, second in the wild card race. They’ve earned themselves a legitimate shot at the playoffs with this current strong run they are on.
But we have seen this before.
In broad strokes, Texas has been the worst team in the league, then the best, then the worst, then the best.
There are 39 games remaining in the regular season. If past performance is any indicator, they are either going to have a run of being very very good in those games, or very very bad. There is no way of predicting anything other than it is going to be interesting.
The Rangers have a chance at a worst to first season. As long as they don’t get derailed by one of those monumental downturns that just shows up and crashes on the couch like a bad houseguest.