Four games, four victories. Three of them, come from behind. Everything that wasn’t working for the Rangers before the All-Star break is certainly working now.
Yesterday’s game was about as good as it gets.
Dane Dunning was dominating through seven innings, going toe-to-toe with the Ray’s Cy Young worthy starter Shane McClanahan. Both giving up just two runs. It was the classic pitcher’s duel.
Dane Dunning is now sixth best in all of baseball in ERA at 2.82. Right behind him is tonight’s starter, Nathan Eovldi, at 2.83.
The Rangers trailed 2-0 going into the bottom of the sixth. Robbie Grossman led off with a sharp single up the middle. Then Ezequiel Duran, who has been struggling, slugged a home run to right center to tie the game.
Suddenly, there was hope. Texas had, in fact, gone into that sixth inning with just one hit. One baserunner.
But Dunning kept them close.
Jose Leclerc pitched a perfect eighth inning. That is now seven straight appearances without giving up a run after his disastrous three-run outing against the Angels. In fact, Leclerc hasn’t given up a run in ten of his last eleven appearances. You cringe when he enters a game but maybe he is turning it around.
Aroldis Chapman blew away the Rays in the top of the ninth, hitting 103 on a few occasions (the fastest pitches thrown by a Rangers pitcher since they started the Statcast measuring in 2005). There has been one trade so far this “trade season.” Rangers general manager Chris Young made it, dealing Cole Ragans for Aroldis Chapman. It has paid off huge for Texas.
Josh Jung led off the bottom of the ninth against they Rays lockdown closer Pete Fairbanks. Josh Smith ran for him. Nathaniel Lowe got to to third with textbook baseball. Then he scored on a two-out wild pitch.
Just like that, the Rangers remained undefeated after the break. They slayed what had been the best bullpen in baseball against Cleveland. Then, they slayed what took over for the best bullpen in baseball against the Rays.
In baseball, success is confidence.
The Rangers are playing with a boatload of that right now. They finally have a closer (two in fact). And that solves so many problems.