The Texas Rangers won fifty-two games in the first half of the season. In all those games, with all that offense they generated, how many games did they win when trailing after six innings?
Had to be about ten, right? Six innings is just two-thirds of a game. Certainly, they had to win about at least ten games when trailing after six innings. If not ten, at least a half dozen, right?
No. The correct answer would be: One.
How many of those fifty-two victories did they secure when trailing after seven innings?
Not a single one.
What about after eighth innings?
This team, while beating up on so many opponents, while being in first place every day but one, simply didn’t display the ability to come back. Until now.
In two of their three games against Cleveland to start the second half, they did just that.
Friday they trailed 4-3 after six innings, a situation they had won only once from. They scored five runs in the seventh, and four more in the eighth.
Yesterday, they were down 5-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth. It was a situation they had never won from. They scored four in the bottom of the inning.
A cynic might say, well, it was against Cleveland, a team that really isn’t very good.
Two things. One, Cleveland came into the series in first place in the AL Central. Two, Cleveland came into this series with the best bullpen ERA in baseball. In this three-game sweep the Rangers pulled off, Cleveland’s bullpen, the best in the business, gave up fifteen earned runs in eight innings.
As good as the Rangers were in the first half, they are doing things so far in the second half that they hadn’t been able to pull off previously. And they did it against the best bullpen in baseball.
Texas is 3-0 after the break. (Their best second-half start since 2011, by the way.) As good as they were in the first half, they are, in many ways, playing their best baseball now.
At least, their most enjoyable baseball.