If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought the Texas Rangers had an alter ego.
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After taking three of four from the Detroit Tigers, including wins over two of their best pitchers, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister, the Texas Rangers bats seem to have taken on a completely different life of their own.
In two games against the Oakland Athletics, the Rangers have scored just two runs on nine hits in the last 18 innings against the team that continues to be a little thorn in their side.
Fans have witnessed the team experience numerous injuries, including Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria, who the team signed during the offseason and who has yet to see his debut, Ian Kinsler and A.J. Pierzynski, who returned to the team on Tuesday night. Yet the Texas Rangers have remained competitive thanks to two young starters in Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch, as well as young bullpen arms Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers, who have been nothing short of phenomenal every time manager Ron Washington calls on them.
But what happens when the offense takes a dirt nap for two games, especially against a team they have no business losing to? If every game counts, as some have said, will the last two games come back to bite the Texas Rangers in the backside?
The seven-run outburst against Justin Verlander would seem to be the Mr. Hyde part of this team. However, Dr. Jekyll seems to come out with the attitude of “maybe we shouldn’t hurt them.”
The Texas Rangers should be playing with a chip on their shoulders for the entire 162-game regular season. I say that because out of 43 ESPN analysts asked to give their predictions on each division in baseball, only five picked the Rangers to win the AL West. The other 38 picked either the Los Angeles Angels or the Oakland Athletics.
In the movie, most people don’t want to see Mr. Hyde make an appearance because you know bad things are going to happen.
If you’re asking for my opinion, that’s the guy I want to see all season long, because that alter ego will have no mercy on any opponent this team faces regardless of being at home or on the road.
Oh, and by the way, for those who said clubhouse atmosphere doesn’t play a big part in how a team performs, I think most of us can see a huge difference on how this season’s team carries itself in comparison to the Texas Rangers teams we’ve seen over the last three to four years, regardless of their run to two straight World Series appearances.
I’m certainly not going to be naive enough to believe this team can keep putting up the kind of numbers they’ve put up over the last few weeks, but I do see a distinct difference between this team and last year’s version.
No longer are they counting on one guy to carry the team, and no longer are they falling off with each injury. If ever there was a time we could say this Texas Rangers team is finally coming together as a team, it would be right now.
Two losses to Oakland don’t concern me all that much, especially not even two months into the season. What I saw against the Tigers is what I believe this team really is. Scoring two runs in two games is certainly frustrating, but you won’t see two months of that like you saw last season.
Had you given a list of the current injuries to anyone in baseball and told them the Texas Rangers would be leading the division by almost five games after two months of the season, most of them would have laughed you out of the room.
But, lo and behold, this team is doing just that.
We talk about the trade deadline and how you can add an impact bat or a front-of-the-rotation arm for the stretch run to the division crown and into the playoffs. However, think of getting two arms for the bullpen (Soria, Feliz) and two starters for the rotation (Harrison, Lewis), and not giving up a single piece from your minor league or big league team. I would think most would be jumping for joy. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get anything of substance from any of them, especially since they are all coming off some sort of surgery.
This team has the ability to hold off the Angels and the A’s, but it’s going to depend on which team shows up. Is it going to be the team that manhandled the Detroit Tigers just a few days ago, or is it going to be the team that scores two runs in 18 innings of baseball?
It’s the case of Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. While we’ll see a little of both for the remainder of the season, only one can determine what this team will be when game 162, and the 2013 season, comes to a close.