Will walk-off wins work wonders for Rangers?
The Texas Rangers let the trade deadline pass quietly, deciding not to bring in another offensive weapon. What we didn’t know is they were saving the fireworks for later that night.
After two straight walk-off wins against the Los Angeles Angels, thanks to home runs from catcher Geovany Soto on Monday and outfielder Leonys Martin on Tuesday, it was almost improbable that it could happen for a third straight night. Right?
With the game tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate and ripped a 2-2 fastball deep into the Texas night for the Rangers’ third straight walk-off win and third straight by a home run.
I won’t rain on the Texas Rangers’ parade, especially because they came from behind in two of the three games against the Angels. But before we get too excited, let’s remember who these wins came against. The Angels’ bullpen is arguably one of the worst in the big leagues, which is the reason Texas fans get so excited when manager Mike Scioscia decides to go to it.
However, this team had been looking for a spark over the last few weeks, and it looks like they may have found it. After splitting a four-game set with the Yankees and following that up by getting swept in Cleveland by the Indians, the Texas Rangers looked lost and were floundering in a bad way.
The next week and a half, beginning with this series against the Angels, was going to be a make or break period of time for this team. With the Oakland Athletics holding a six-game lead when this week began, the Texas Rangers could not afford to lose any more ground in the AL West divisional race.
Sweeping the Angels was the best outcome this team could have hoped for. Getting three wins to start this week couldn’t have been any bigger, especially going into a make-up game with the Arizona Diamondbacks and following that with a three-game set in Oakland against the division leaders and three more in Anaheim against the Angels.
The Texas Rangers have a tremendous opportunity to put themselves back in the driver’s seat and control their own destiny. While there are some who want to keep their eyes squarely on the wild card, there’s still too much baseball left to think this Rangers’ squad can’t make up ground and take control of their own division.
While the trade deadline passed without a move being made, it wasn’t worth giving up the kind of players it was going to take to get the bat they wanted for the remainder of this season or, perhaps, beyond.
But let’s not lose sight of the fact there are still trades to be made in the month of August. Almost every player in baseball is put through the waiver wire and, depending on whether or not a claim is made by an interested team, a trade can be worked out.
The Texas Rangers still have the opportunity to improve, especially with outfielder Nelson Cruz staring down the barrel of a 50-game suspension.
It may be Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins or Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, but there are guys out there who the Texas Rangers can bring in who will improve the team and at least fill a little bit of the void if, in fact, Cruz decides not to appeal his suspension.
Will that player be able to hit 20 home runs down the stretch? Probably not. But as long as it’s a player who fits into this lineup and can be productive offensively, that should be all this team needs to put itself into a position to grab a hold of the AL West.
Tonight, the momentum carries itself into Arizona and then into Northern California. Which Rangers team will show up over the next four days and how much more ground can they make up?
Splitting the next four games will at least put them into a really good position. However, if the Texas Rangers really want to put Oakland on its heels, they need to win three of the next four going into Anaheim.
From here on out, it’s about controlling their own destiny. Keep winning and it gives the front office even more of a reason to make that necessary move to fill the spot vacated by Cruz, if he’s suspended, as well as the soon-to-be-vacated designated hitter spot with Lance Berkman, who’s on the cusp of retirement.
The trade deadline may have been quiet, but the Texas Rangers have been anything but.