Texas Rangers look promising against Los Angeles Angels
In splitting their two-game road series with the Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers offer fans a glimmer of what they should be capable of.
In the 1990′s and early 2000′s Texas had two teams. The American League Rangers who were one of the strongest sides in baseball, winning pennants in ‘96, ‘98, ‘99, ‘10, ‘11, ‘15, and ‘16. And then there were the National League Astros. Terrible, they won their first and only National League pennant in 2005.
Fast forward two decades and the shoe is on the other foot. The Astros are now in the American League, divisional rivals with their fellow Texans, and firmly in the driving seat. The Rangers have languished in post-season obscurity for the better part of a decade now and Houston narrowly missed World Series silverware when they dropped Game 6 to the Atlanta Braves.
This season, the Astros are perhaps the strongest team in baseball, and definitely sit firmly atop the AL West, two games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels. Much focus has been on this race, with the cross-town Los Angeles Dodgers Leading the NL West, the possibility of a Fall showdown between the Angels and Dodgers excites the imaginations of the fans and press alike.
Added to this the once-in-a-generation talents of double threat Shohei Ohtani as well as perhaps the greatest player in the game today, Mike Trout, and you can see why the Angels will soak up so many headlines. But the summer is long and there are other teams on the horizon.
The Rangers have struggled of late, despite one of the biggest off-season signings in baseball to net Corey Seager in a ten-year $325 million deal, plus picking up Kole Calhoun and Marcus Semien to round off a strong batting order. Their big signings have not paid them back in the way that they might have expected, but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
In Wednesday’s second game in their two-game series against the Angels, the Rangers looked like a team just on the cusp of getting things working their way. Sitting in third place and only 8.5 games adrift, if Texas can get one or two elements of their offense to come good, we could be looking at an entirely different picture.
Defensively, the Rangers pitching was superb. Glenn Otto struck out seven with two walks, giving up three hits and one run in five innings pitched. He fanned both Trout and Ohtani twice each. The only run that he gave up was on a walk given to Ohtani in the first, who then stole second, narrowly beating the tag on Jonah Heim’s throw, and then scored on a single to left by Anthony Rendon.
The biggest improvement by Texas was with the bat, as they managed to string together seven runs, mainly by playing small ball. Mitch Garver hit a solo shot and Kole Calhoun a two-run, both in the fourth inning, but aside from that, all of the Rangers baseline action was as a result of singles, steals, and sacrifices. Small ball tactics gave them a little nibble at a time. It was refreshing to see.
Marcus Semien had a great day with a triple off the left field wall in the third and a deep sac fly in the seventh. Overall, he went 2 for 4 and scored once.
The Angels had a rough day in the office and tried to string something together in the ninth with back-to-back singles, a sac fly, and a bobbled ball at first base, but in the end they could only claw one run back before Rangers closer Joe Barlow slammed the door shut on Los Angeles to win the game 7-2.
The Astros and the Angels are still the teams to watch in this division, no doubt about it. But there is hope that perhaps the Rangers will build on this squad and give us a September to remember. They definitely have all the parts. The question is whether they can bring them together.