By Mark Miller
On June 30, the Texas Rangers were 21 games over the .500 mark and 6.5 games ahead in the American League West division. In an inconsistent journey lasting 34 games and nearly six weeks, they finally returned to that position.
Thanks to an 8-3 start in August and a 4-2 record last week, the team matched its high marks for the season. It also moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees for the best record in the American League.
Winning series at Boston and at home against Detroit, the Rangers continued a trend that started Aug. 1-2 when they rallied for a split against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
“We had a wake-up call against the Angels,” said Texas Manager Ron Washington. “We weren’t playing to our capabilities. When that happens you either lie down or fight and we have been fighting and for right now doing well.”
In taking two of three games from Detroit, the Rangers beat a team that had won 24 of 37 games and gave the Rangers a 7-3 final regular-season series record against the team it beat in last year’s league championship series. It also contributed to a week of interesting side notes in which Texas:
Scored at least six runs three times, winning them all.
Scored two runs three times, winning once.
Starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Yu Darvish won twice.
Relievers Alexi Ogando and Mike Adams won twice.
Rookie Mike Olt won Saturday’s game with a two-out, pinch-hit single.
While the Rangers are in a good place right now, their players know there’s still 49 games left to do even more.
“We’re playing good baseball but feel we have a lot of work to do to play our best,” said Michael Young. “We’re getting there.
Stretch against East continues
Texas continues facing A.L. East teams for another week with the final two games at the Yankees on Wednesday and Thursday, a weekend series in Toronto and hosting the Baltimore Orioles beginning Monday.
The series against the Yankees could be a prelude to the American League Championship Series as the teams have been atop the the league most of the year. Entering this week New York was 67-47 while the Rangers stood at 67-46.
The Rangers lead the Blue Jays 4-2 in the season series, winning three in Arlington in May and losing two of three April 30-May 2 in Canada. Toronto has lost 11 of its last 14 games to drop to last place in the East at 54-60. The team has 13 players on the disabled list including slugger Jose Bautista who may return against Texas after missing a month with an injured left wrist. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion has been Toronto’s offensive bright spot with 29 home runs and 77 runs batted in and .288 average.
An early surprise who led the A.L. East for awhile, the Orioles remain in strong wild card contention with a 62-53 record entering this week. The Rangers won three of four games in Baltimore in the only previous 2012 action between the teams. Former Rangers first baseman Chris Davis has fared well for Baltimore with a .252 average, 18 homers and 55 RBI. Former Texas pitchers Pedro Strop and Darren O’Day have been strong in the bullpen with a 4-2 record, 1.24 earned run average and 6-0, 2.51, respectively.
8/15 @Yankees 6:05 p.m.
8/16 @Yankees 12:05 p.m.
8/17 @Blue Jays 6:07 p.m.
8/18 @Blue Jays 12:07 p.m.
8/19 @Blue Jays 12:07 p.m.
8/20 Orioles 7:05 p.m.
8/21 Orioles 7:05 p.m.