The Texas Rangers are still very much in a battle for the top spot in the AL West. They are trying desperately to repeat as division champions and with a current three game cushion over the second place Los Angeles Angels.
If you’re a like me you’re looking at that three game lead wishing it was a six or seven game lead. Three just doesn’t seem like enough, especially against the Angels.
What has been so amazing to me is the fact that the Rangers shouldn’t even be in this position especially with the rotation, outside of ace C.J. Wilson, has been struggling over the last month. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis have all had rough starts and it looks as if Ogando is headed where he should have been in the first place-back to the bullpen.
The good news about the AL West race is the Rangers continue to win but, then again, so do the Angels.
Texas has beaten up on the Cleveland Indians in their first two games and neither have been close. They took a 10-4 win on Tuesday night and then used the long ball to take them down again on Wednesday night, 9-1.
But is this team really good enough to hold off the Angels the last few weeks of the season? One former general manager is sticking with his pre-season pick and expects the Angels to come up with some sort of come from behind miracle to knock off the defending division champions.
Jim Bowden sticking with the Angels
Jim Bowden, former general manager with the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds, picked the Los Angeles Angels to win the AL West prior to the 2011 seaso getting underway. Since he doesn’t want to be looked at as a bandwagon jumper or that he’s officially “given up” on the team out west, he says he is going to stick to his guns. At least for now.
While he spends a lot of column inches talking about what the Rangers have done to what the Angels have not, Bowden cites the three top starters in the Angels’ rotation as the biggest factor down the stretch.
I commend Bowden for being good to his work and staying with his pick to the end. But with just a few weeks left in the regular season, even he will have to admit defeat.
I still don’t trust Derek Holland
Yes you read that right. There have been a lot of people on my back about my critcism of Rangers’ left hander, Derek Holland. For those of you who enjoy reading my stuff or listening to the podcasts, you know I don’t pull any punches and I don’t often back down from my opinions. That includes being tough on their leadoff hitter, Ian Kinsler. But that’s another story for another day.
There’s no doubt at this point Holland will be in the Rangers’ playoff rotation. The reason for that is not because he’s that good or that the team believes in him that much, though they probably do to a certain extent, it’s because they really don’t have a better option at the No. 2 or No. 3 spot at this point.
We know C.J. Wilson is going to take the lead spot but can anyone really tell me Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis deserve any of the two playoff rotation spots? I didn’t think so.
So what the Rangers have to do at this point is going with Wilson, Holland and Matt Harrison as their top three guys come playoff time. There’s one big, HUGE, glaring problem with that. Those three don’t scare anyone, especially not playoff teams.
Look at the Detroit Tigers, winning their 12th straight game on Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Rays who have constantly given the Rangers’ fits, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, I could go on and on.
Holland won’t be facing the likes of the Cleveland Indians or the Seattle Mariners or any team with a weak offense to make himself look that much better.
You can disagree with me all you want, but there’s one thing you can’t argue with. There isn’t one fan, except for those blinded by their own bias, who can say with 100% certainty they trust Derek Holland in a big playoff game.
Josh Hamilton stays hot
The Texas Rangers are known for one of the best offenses in baseball thanks in large part to the amount of home runs this team has hit.
With three more home runs on Wednesday night, the Rangers are third in all of baseball with 186, just one shy of the Boston Red Sox (187) and 21 shy of the New York Yankees (207).
One guy who has carried this offense for most of the season is outfielder Josh Hamilton. The fan favorite and one of the more quiet superstars in this league. It’s not often you find a gentle giant in a big league clubhouse, but Josh has always been larger than life.The best part about him? He leaves no question in your mind where his priorities, not to mention his beliefs, are.
Hamilton hit his second home run in as many nights on Wednesday, this one of the grand slam variety. It was his 21st of the season, 11 shy of his total (32) from the 2010 season.
There’s no question he is going to be a factor down the stretch, but he can’t do it all nor can the team ask him to shoulder the expectation of carrying the offense.
But, it doesn’t mean Josh won’t come up with a huge hit when the timing is just right. It’s what he’s been good at since coming to Texas and with the divisional race coming down the stretch, I wouldn’t put a magic moment past the guy who has done it time and time again.