Adrian Beltre might have saved the entire season for the Texas Rangers
Maybe Adrian Beltre saved an entire season for the Texas Rangers. Let’s revisit that one in a couple of months.
No team has had a bigger hit this season than Beltre’s game-winning walk-off home run Monday night that turned a 6-5 loss to the Athletics into a 7-6 victory.
Inside the clubhouse, the Rangers will tell you that’s exactly what they’ve expect of him. He’s a future Hall of Famer, one of the best third basemen ever.
To the Rangers, he’s that and a lot more. He’s their leader, their heart and soul. In the toughest times, he keeps things moving in the right direction.
Through a brutal few weeks, there was never a day when the Rangers looked liked they’d given up when everything, absolutely everything, was going against them. For Beltre to deliver in that situation validates so much about both the man and his career.
There’s an amazing larger story with these Rangers. Yes, they’ve had a tough few weeks, losing 15 of 19 at one point and going almost two weeks without getting a victory from a starting pitcher.
Their lead in the American League East had gone from 11 games to 2 1/2 when Beltre’s home run got it back to 3 1/2.
Problems here, problems there. First, the rotation was decimated by injuries and poor performances. In attempting to prop up his rotation, Rangers manager Jeff Banister risked burning out his bullpen.
And then as General Manager Jon Daniels was shopping for starting pitching—Chris Sale, Chris Archer, others—Prince Fielder and Shin Soo-Choo got hurt.
Suddenly, he had fewer cards to play. How could he trade Jurickson Profar when Profar suddenly was a critical part of the offense? Stay tuned.
Here’s the amazing part of this story, the part of it that doesn’t get much play as we focus on the comings and goings of a pennant race.
The Rangers have just finished a stretch in which they played 29 of 39 games on the road. Despite all the problems, they did two amazing things in this stretch:
- They cobbled together a winning record (20-19).
- They remained in first place.
Now the Rangers can see a crack of sunlight. They’ve won three games in a row for the first time since late June and play 25 of 38 at home at a time when the Astros schedule gets tougher.
Are there still reasons to worry? Yes, absolutely. While the Rangers have the worst ERA in the majors the last month, the Astros have the best.
During the three-game win streak, only one starter finished six innings. In all, they allowed four earned runs in 16 1/3 innings. That’s not Cy Young stuff, but it’s better than they’ve been getting.
The hope is that Yu Darvish will stay healthy and productive. Even if Daniels acquires one starter—he almost certainly will—A.J. Griffin and Martin Perez must pitch well.
Colby Lewis and Derek Holland are wild cards. Both are on the Disabled List, and it’s unclear when either will return.
It’s a huge tribute to Banister’s leadership—and he would say, to Beltre’s and to others—that the Rangers have held it together.
Now they’re back home and have a winning streak to try and build upon. The AL West might be won in a month-long stretch beginning August 5 when the Rangers and Astros play nine times.
The Rangers have dominated the series, going 9-1 against the Astros this season and 22-7 the last two seasons.
In the end, it’s probably about the pitching. The Astros are getting the best pitching in the majors. The Rangers aren’t.
But they’ve survived. They’ve got Darvish back and just got acceptable performances from Griffin and Perez. That’s a breath of fresh air and maybe a start to something more.