The last four games were frustrating. The next four games are critical.
Despite splitting two of four with the lowly Chicago White Sox, the Rangers just finished their second-best home stand of the season, winning seven of ten, in which they took two out of three against Houston, and swept Detroit.
When they started they were eighth in the wild card race—six games behind the leading New York Yankees and three behind second-place Minnesota.
In those ten games, they gained a game on New York and one-half game on Minnesota and now sit in sixth place.
At that pace—one game out of every ten on first place, and one-half game out of every ten on second place—they won’t make up enough ground in the last forty games. But least they are moving in the right direction.
And, at least they can make some serious headway in the next four games.
The culprit yesterday was familiar. Lack of timely hitting. Which frankly, hadn’t been an issue for most of the games in the home stand. The Rangers scored double digits in three of the ten games, nine runs in one, eight in another. So offense wasn’t really a problem.
But they also gave up eight runs, seven runs and six runs in three of the seven victories. Their strong bats masked some leaky pitching.
Now they go into four with the Los Anaheim Angels of Mike Trout. The Angels, who are tied with the Twins for that second wild card slot, seem to be doing it with smoke and mirrors.
They have zero name-brand pitchers, yet they sport the fifth-best ERA in the American League overall, with the sixth-best starting staff and fourth-best bullpen. The Rangers are seventh in starting, eleventh in bullpen.
For anyone still clinging onto post-season hopes for the Rangers, these next four games are going to be huge. A sweep, or three of four, and they pass the Angels, and they have a legitimate shot.
Anything less is much less.
Cole Hamels (8-1, 3.48) vs. Tyler Skaggs (1-3, 3.63)
Game time: 9:07