If the Texas Rangers are going to make a run it needs to start already.
The club has been treading water the entire season. Even a 10-game win streak in May did little to alter their course. They’re coming off a 3-3 road trip before beginning a 10-game homestand, beginning with a three-game series against the American League West-leading Houston Astros.
The Rangers begin the final seven weeks five games under .500 (54-59) and 4 1/2 games and five teams back of the second wild -card spot.
In the past 21 seasons since the Rangers earned their first postseason berth, they’ve finished with a winning record in their final 48 games 10 times. That includes the past two seasons and five of the past six.
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In their favor? They play 27 of the final 48 at home and have 20 against teams with no postseason hopes at all. Can it be done? The Rangers, including their captain Adrian Beltre, certainly think it’s possible.
Beltre isn’t just saying what you’d expect him to say, either. He’s still going on the assumption that the club hasn’t played with all of its weapons or up to its potential for any substantial stretch. That includes Beltre missing the first two months, Cole Hamels missing two months and Andrew Cashner and A.J. Griffin both spending extended time on the disabled list.
“[We need to] be more consistent. We played well some games and other games not so well,” Beltre said after Wednesday’s 5-1 win against the Mets to close out the trip. “I think our offense needs to give more run support for our pitching staff. Going back home for 10 games is a good way to start doing that more often.”
Manager Jeff Banister recently vowed that his club would not roll over and concede the postseason until they were mathematically eliminated.
“When I first took over … we had the whole mantra that there is nothing that is going to force us to call a 20-second timeout or throw in the towel or raise the flag or quit in any shape, form or fashion,” he said.
“That’s the beauty of sport. People on the outside like to play it on paper, we like to play it on the dirt and grass. It’ll be challenging, but I think this group of men are up to that challenge, whatever that is. We just have to play a little better.”
In 2015, the Rangers finished the season 31-17 without Yu Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy or Jeremy Jeffress, a fact Banister was reminded of recently.
“It’s kind of like Beltre probably swings it better when he doesn’t feel as good,” he said. “Our guys probably play a little better when their backs are against the wall. That’s the message, that is the strength of our team. It has been tough to find that traction but it’s still there. That DNA is still there. That want to and that drive is still there. There’s talent in that room.”
But will it show up in time?
Fight or flight?
A look at how the Rangers have closed out their past 21 seasons over the final 48 games:
*Includes one-game playoff vs. Tampa Bay which the Rangers lost.
A pregame ceremony honoring Adrian Beltre’s 3,000th hit will begin at 6:20 p.m. Sept. 8 before the Rangers host the Yankees. Several special tributes are planned. More details will come later. A limited edition Beltre 3K cap is available with the purchase of a special event ticket for the Sept. 8-9 games against the Yankees. Tickets are available at www.texasrangers.com/Beltre3K.
The Rangers received right-hander Jhan Mariñez on a waiver claim from the Pirates. He’ll join the Rangers on Friday, which will require the club to make a corresponding move on the 25-man roster. Mariñez turns 29 on Saturday. He is a combined 0-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 50 2/3 relief innings with the Brewers and Pirates this season.
Rangers vs. Astros
7:05 p.m. Friday, FSSW, AT&T SportsNet