Baseball is pretty amazing, isn’t it?
A team that could do very little right suddenly can do very little wrong.
A team that analysts were saying might sell at the trade deadline is now in the premature hunt for a wild-card spot.
Now, the Texas Rangers have won 10 straight games and are three games above. 500 at 23-20. They even trimmed a game off the Houston Astros’ division lead Friday by beating the Detroit Tigers coupled with the Astros’ loss to Cleveland.
Here are a few other tidbits from the win:
The Rangers’ winning streak is their longest since Josh Hamilton was the best player on the planet in June 2010. Those Rangers won 11 in a row.
It was their seventh straight win at Comerica Park, their longest winning streak ever in Detroit.
The once-beleaguered offense has scored five runs in eighth straight game.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-3 victory.
1. Joey Gallo struck out in his first two at-bats Thursday, eliciting the following comment from someone in the press box:
“Sometimes he’s so hard to watch.”
But the next at-bat is what he’s capable of doing and has done 13 times this season. He hit the baseball over the fence, this time way over the fence, for a key two-run homer that made a not-so-comfortable 3-1 lead a bit more comfortable at 5-1.
Some of the comments that were elicited aren’t fit for print.
The 439-foot shot, which came off the bat at 115 mph and fell just short of reaching the concourse in right field, pushed Gallo’s average to .190. His strikeout count is at an MLB-leading 63.
The advanced metrics show him more love than the traditional stats, and some are bothered by the lack of contact he makes. Everyone loves it when he makes contract, because damage is usually done.
The Rangers will soon be faced with a decision on what to do with Gallo, as Adrian Beltre’s calf appears to have made significant progress.
Do the Rangers move Gallo to left field? Do the Rangers move Gallo to Triple A Round Rock?
Both are possibilities. A demotion could happen despite his club lead in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage (among qualifiers) and on-base plus slugging (among qualifiers). His club lead in those categories is what would keep him up.
But he’s also drawing walks, and his homer came after making an adjustment against Daniel Norris. He’s a left-hander. Gallo bats left-handed. That’s significant, too.
The guess here is that he stays in the majors as the left fielder, with Delino DeShields moving to center field. There could also be times when Choo plays more right field, Gallo plays third base and Beltre spends a little more time at designated hitter than usual.
Don’t be shocked, though, if the Rangers sent Gallo down. He is now clearly their third baseman of the future, and perhaps they want him to continue getting reps there while also continuing to work on making more contact.
With any luck with Beltre’s calf (knock on the nearest wood), the answer will come in early June.
2. Tyson Ross could be ready to join the Rangers’ rotation for the first time as early as May 28 should the Rangers want to keep him on his current schedule. He might be on hold until the first week of June if the Rangers want him to make another rehab start after his next one Tuesday.
Either way, the right-hander will be in the rotation soon, barring a setback, and Nick Martinez will likely be headed back to Triple A Round Rock or possibly into the bullpen as the long man.
With the state of the Rangers’ rotation at Round Rock, despite the solid start by Dillon Gee on Friday, bet on Martinez rejoining the rotation.
But everyone should feel far better about Martinez than a year ago, when he wouldn’t throw enough strikes to compete and didn’t give the Rangers much of a chance in many of his starts.
He left Friday with a 5-1 lead, and the one run was unearned. He threw too many pitches, including nine extra after a two-out error on Elvis Andrus in the fourth. Give him those pitches back, and the Rangers let him start the sixth.
There’s no guarantee that he would have fared any better than Tony Barnette (walk, single, wild pitch, sacrifice fly to the first three batters), but he would have gotten the chance and the bullpen wouldn’t have been taxed so early.
Martinez, though, doesn’t have the dynamic stuff that Ross can have. His slider was better Thursday in extended spring training, according to pitching coach Doug Brocail’s report, and his fastball command was where it needs to be.
There’s probably a little more velocity in there than 88-92 mph, though that’s as hard as Martinez has been throwing and far harder than A.J. Griffin. The Rangers will have a choice to make on Griffin in early July assuming Cole Hamels returns and assuming no other member of the rotation needs time on the disabled list.
Griffin is scheduled to start Saturday, and all he’s done this season is go 4-0 (all wins on the road) with a 3.15 ERA and the Rangers’ first complete game since September 2015.
If Griffin and Martinez are a team’s extra starters, their rotation is in pretty good shape. The Rangers could be that team in six weeks.
That’s pretty good on paper, and the Rangers are already leading the majors in rotation ERA.
“Really damn good,” Brocail said.
3. Matt Bush found himself tested in the ninth inning, and had to throw 33 pitches to get out it. He allowed a run, albeit unearned, but he wasn’t as sharp as he normally is.
He was pitching for a second consecutive day, so maybe that had something to do with it. Rain started falling on a chilly night, so maybe that had something to do with it.
The important thing is that he finished off the game. He was still level-headed enough and had the stuff to strike out Alex Avila as the game-winning run.
Pressure shouldn’t bother him. He’s been to prison for crying out loud, and now has the pressure of trying to stay sober each day.
Closing out a regular-season game? Should be a piece of cake. Maybe not that easy, but when things get tight, as they did Friday, he has experiences that no closer before him has had to fall back upon.
This closing thing appears to suit him well.