Before you bank the rest of the Rangers’ season, give them at least 16 more games to get your juices flowing again.
That includes the six-game road trip they begin Thursday in Minnesota and a 10-game homestand against the Astros, Tigers and White Sox, which begins Aug. 11.
Many of you have already written them off from contending from one of the two wild card spots. And let’s be honest, this 3-6 homestand didn’t do much to raise hopes. If anything, it squashed any remaining hope you were clinging to.
But I’d suggest giving them one more road trip and one more homestand before declaring the season a lost cause. Not out of blind allegiance, but as a dedicated fan who believes that they believe that they’re still capable of turning it around. It’s still a long shot. But the five teams ahead of them, not including the Yankees and Royals, who currently occupy the two wild card spot, are passable, including the Twins, who are 51-54 and a game ahead of the Rangers.
Manager Jeff Banister said before Wednesday’s game that his team will play like it’s fighting for a playoff spot until the end.
“Why else would we continue to play? They’re not going to shut the season off. Until you’re either in our out, that’s why you play,” he said. “That’s how guys compete.”
Banister said he knows how some clubs in a rebuilding phase are only striving for “incremental improvement” some seasons. He argued that his team will never settle for such low expectations.
“The thing about this club is there is never that mindset. The mindset is to continue to play and pushing through towards an opportunity to get into the playoffs,” he said. That’s where we want to go so we’ll always continue that mindset and have that rhetoric.”
Here’s the Rangers reaction after a wet, winning Wednesday:
1. Cashner cruising — Andrew Cashner’s ERA dipped even lower still with Wednesday’s outing. He’s now seventh in the American League with a 3.36 ERA. He won his third consecutive start, which ties the longest stretch of his career.
Cashner’s first comment during his post-game interview was to credit his defense.
“For me, I’m not going to strike a ton of guys out and I’m going to get a lot of ground balls and the defense has been unbelievable,” said Cashner, who improved to 7-8. Cashner has allowed more than three runs in his only four his 18 starts. He has six consecutive quality starts and 12 on the season. Cashner said he’s throwing his sinker as well as he ever has.
“I’m doing a lot of things well. I’m running the four-seamer up in the top of the zone, the breaking ball is better, the changeups are down,” he said.
He also got to pitch in front of his former coach at TCU, Jim Schlossnagle, who was the game with his family.
“Yeah, it was cool,” Cashner said. “Just to get to see him and his family and the things I’ve done and to have him come over to watch was cool.”
2. Gallo gone again — Joey Gallo is getting comfortable up here. It’s the pitchers who are starting to squirm. Gallo it another mammoth home run to center field Wednesday night. The ball landed in the plaza area beyond Green’s Hill. It wasn’t on the Hyundai Club roof like the one he hit Tuesday, but it went nearly as far.
“I don’t feel like I’m in a groove or anything. I just feel like I’m getting a pitch to hit and not missing it,” Gallo said. “It was nice to hit it to center. That’s something I wasn’t doing early in the year, so it’s a good sign for me, personally.”
Gallo has six homers in his past nine games and seven homers in the past 12 games.
3. A bug dies in Gallo’s eye — After hitting his home run in the fifth, Gallo was at third base preparing for Cashner to pitch to his first batter when a bug flew into the corner of his right eye. Replays showed Gallo reacting in pain and one would assume, disgust, as the bug lodged it’s way in. It’s happened before, Gallo said.
“It was freaking huge. It was in there good,” he said. “I thought I got shot. I could feel it in there. I just saw a white blob coming.”
Gallo had to call for time because he couldn’t see. A trainer used some saline and elbow grease to dislodge the bug from Gallo’s eye.
“He kind of dug it out with his finger. That was fun. Nice, dirty finger in there,” said Gallo, who stayed in the game and had a sense of humor about the ordeal.
4. Elvis at 50 — Elvis Andrus hit his 50th-career home run Tuesday. It was a two-run homer that put the Rangers up 5-1. It’s his 15th homer of the season, which is the most by a Rangers’ shortstop since Michael Young his 24 in 2005. Andrus also had his 11th three-hit game, which is the most on the team.