What We Learned In Houston

In the 1981 strike-shortened season, the Texas Rangers were 40-29 after 69 games. Of course, game number 69 didn't happen until August and the team only played a total of 105 games that year.

In 2004, the Rangers, a huge league surprise after trading A-Rod and finishing the previous year 71-91, were 40-29 after 69 games.

In 1996, the year the Rangers would finally break through and make the playoffs, the team was 42-27 after 69 games.

In 2010, the year the Club President, and soon to be owner (fingers-crossed), proclaimed 92 wins or bust and the year the Rangers Marketing campaign was built around the simple slogan: "It's Time," the Rangers are 41-28 after 69 games. 

After a sweep in Houston, and the most successful road trip in team history, the Rangers are enjoying their second best record before they play their 70th game in franchise history. The only time the Rangers were better at this point in a season, they won the division. That's worth getting excited about.

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  • This just in, Josh Hamilton might just be the leading contender for AL MVP at the moment. If he keeps this up and the Rangers win the division, who says no?
  • Somehow, Jon Daniels may have bought himself an answer to a life-long Ranger question for 2 years/$5M plus a $3.25M club option in 2012. This just doesn't happen to the Rangers. The Rangers don't just win the lottery. The Rangers don't accidentally strike oil. The Rangers couldn't tell you what the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow looks like. Pitchers don't come to Texas and do what Colby Lewis is doing. It just doesn't happen. After his game on Saturday night, Colby Lewis has pitched the 7th & 9th best games of the year according to Game Score. The game was the best by a pitcher this season in which a run scored. Colby is the only pitcher in baseball to have a top ten Game Score twice. Of course, Game Score is just a toy. It's not a true indicator of much of anything. However, the fact that Colby has the best opponent's batting average at .193 in the American League (the only pitcher in the AL under .200) and is 6th in the AL in K/9 at 8.65 you get an idea of what Colby Lewis is doing. He's nearing a status deemed nigh impossible for this franchise. Jon Daniels drew from a stacked deck and it's looking very likely that he came up with an ace in Colby Lewis.
  • Confusing to me, however, is how Chris Ray continues to be counted on as the bullpen ace. Over the past month, I've noticed a trend of Chris Ray moving up the ranks of the Rangers bullpen while guys who have out-performed him have moved down. Ray has the worst xFIP on the team (not counting Guillermo Moscoso's sole disastrous two-thirds of an inning) at 5.85. He has the second fewest K/9, a K/BB rate of 1.0, and all of this awfulness comes with an incredibly low BABIP of .198. Chris Ray has been lucky to only be this bad. The good news, in 7 innings, Ray's June as been better. You have to wonder however if that's just a small sample and the rug is about to be pulled out from under the Rangers in an important situation that Chris Ray doesn't have any business being in.
  • The Rangers now have a winning record on the road. Who saw that one coming? I keep trying to tell myself, "It's only Milwaukee, Florida and Houston. It's only Milwaukee, Florida and Houston. It's only Milwaukee, Florida and Houston." but then I just find myself being impressed and tell myself to shut up and enjoy it.
  • I've got to admit, it's been impressive watching the Rangers battle for the past few weeks. You hear the ol' chestnuts all of the time, "We fought to the last out." "We never gave up." "We always believed." But the Rangers are actually somehow doing the things it takes to make those statements less cliché and more truth-worthy. Over the course of this nine game road trip, the Rangers gave up only 6 runs total in innings 7 through 9 (that also includes the tenth inning in yesterday's game). The Rangers scored 16 runs themselves in the late innings. 27 of the Rangers 46 runs over the nine game trip were scored with two outs as opposed to only 6 total 2-out runs for Milwaukee, Florida, and Houston (and 5 of those 6 2-out Runs were by the Brewers in the first three days of the trip). If such a thing as clutch exists, the Rangers experienced it these past nine days.
  • Remember when the road trip began with a loss to Chris Narveson and then a heart palpitating sweat-it-out 4-3 win in Milwaukee? That seems like months ago.

So what did we learn?

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That damn boot isn't going anywhere.

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