A re-post from September 17, 2014, after a rare Rangers winning streak of four games. Let’s hope those aren’t a rarity this season. Enjoy.
April 15 is Tax Day. For most Americans, it’s the worst day of the year. I have always thought we should move Election Day to April 16. That would totally change the landscape of American politics. But who cares about politics when there’s baseball?
For the Rangers, April 15 was the start of the short happy life of the 2014 season.
That night, the Rangers won the first of what would eventually be five-straight games. In fact, the Rangers would win eight of nine and take a half-game lead over Oakland for first place in the American League West.
A half-game lead. Like, in first place. That kind of lead.
Things were looking up. Life was good. Not too long afterward, though, the Rangers would be looking up at the rest of the division for good.
A month later, the Rangers were in fourth place, seven games back. Two months later, the Rangers were twenty-two games back, in dead last, dead on arrival.
What’s interesting about that brief period of excellence, though, is that Kevin Kouzmanoff—wow, remember him?—was the Rangers third baseman during that stretch.
Adrian Beltre didn’t play. He was out nursing a pulled hamstring. The Rangers best hitter had nothing to do with the Rangers best winning streak.
Instead, the Rangers rode into first place on the back of Kevin Kouzmanoff, who not only was hitting .362, he was hitting everything in sight.
Then his back gave out.
Then the Rangers season gave out.
It’s doubtful that Kouzmanoff would have kept up that incredible pace. He is, after all, a career .257 hitter. But Rangers fans saw Mike Napoli play out of his mind for half a season, and that carried this team to the World Series.
That wouldn’t have happened had Kouzmanoff stayed healthy. He couldn’t play first, second, short, DH, left, center, right, catch, come out of the bullpen, or pitch out of the rotation. Unfortunately, neither could the Rangers.
There were too many holes. Too many injuries. Too many Morelands.
But for one brief shining moment, the 2014 Rangers were the 2011 Rangers.
Last night, after winning their fourth game in a row, a 6-3 victory over the sloppy, quickly deflating Oakland Athletics, the Rangers put together their second-longest winning streak of the year, this time on the back of Adrian Beltre, and improving to .500 under interim manager Tim Bogar in the process.
If only Kouzmanoff wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
And Profar wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
And Choo wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
And Fielder wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
Let’s go for five.