When I left the Texas Rangers for dead in Baltimore, they had lost five straight and looked nothing like a contending club.
They couldn’t get anyone out, they couldn’t score any runs, and the defense was faulty.
Other than that, everything was fine.
Then, a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay happened, however it happened, and suddenly a morbid-looking road trip ended at .500 and the Rangers were back in the playoff picture.
The Rangers Reaction Trade-Deadline-O-Meter was firmly on the sell side. Now it’s on the other side. It’s not a buyer side as much as not-selling side.
That’s how the latest batch of tea leaves reads.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction after a 4-0 loss to the Miami Marlins.
1. Adrian Beltre looked as if he wants to get this 3,000-hit escapade behind him, and after collecting four singles, he confirmed that the sooner the better.
This homestand would be preferable.
And it seems like that will happen, perhaps by the weekend while Ivan Rodriguez is getting inducted into the Hall of Fame and while Yu Darvish trade rumors continue to fly all over.
Why, just Monday the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to be hot and heavy for Darvish. The Chicago Cubs want him. I didn’t see this, but it’s probably only a matter of time before the good ol’ mystery team enters the picture.
Beltre will be, too, despite some fine writing by Tim Brown over the weekend telling the Boston Red Sox to give Jon Daniels a call. It makes some sense, like maybe in August after he takes care of his 3,000th hit and if the Rangers season goes down the toilet and stays down.
Instead, the most likely outcome is a continued yo-yo through the end. That’s what the Rangers have done so far through 99 games. Three good, four stinkers. Five of seven good, 6 of 8 not so good.
But that flirtation with .500 and, more importantly, the wild-card spots will keep Daniels from pulling the trigger on Darvish and will keep veterans like Beltre and Elvis Andrus saying until the end that the Rangers are contenders.
And it could go to the end. No AL team wants to run away with the second wild-card spot, so all the clubs stuck in the mud of mediocrity are going to be within a good week of going to the playoffs.
It feels so close, and yet it doesn’t. But that sensation of closeness is going to keep the Rangers intact the rest of the season.
2. While some on the Twitter were boo-hooing Martin Perez after the first inning, in which he allowed two runs and four hits, something that shouldn’t be unexpected happened.
Perez pitched another good game.
That makes three to open the second half, and that includes allowing five runs in six-plus innings last week at Baltimore. Any semblance of relief work would have likely turned that one into a quality start, like the one he logged in the Rangers’ first game after the All-Star break and the one Monday night.
Seven innings, three runs, six hits. He made a costly mistake to Giancarlo Stanton in the first, missing his location and watching Stanton nearly hit the pitch into a trash can in left field.
The book is still unfinished on Perez’s season and really his career. He shows glimpses of being very good, glimpses of being a solid No. 4 starter and then glimpses of futility. His 4.67 ERA, where he’s basically been the past two months, suggests more of the latter two.
However, the more that he continues to pitch — he didn’t miss a start last season and hasn’t this year either — the more he is learning and the better that will make him. While everyone seems to forget that Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor are only 23, and that Jurickson Profar is still 24, and that Nomar Mazara is just 22, Perez isn’t that far ahead of them.
He’s only 26, and the Rangers hold club options on him the next three seasons. He feels like a lock for the first two of them.
Perez isn’t going anywhere. This might be all that he is, but he’s still young and still has a chance to get better. He’s been pretty good so far in the second half.
3. Pudge Rodriguez will be joined by a massive contingent of Rangers personnel and former players, coaches and executives in a few days in Cooperstown, N.Y., ahead of his Sunday induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rumor has it the beat writers will be there, too.
All the feel-good of the weekend will have a little bit of an edge to it as more and more media come to town. His sudden weight loss in 2005 will be pointed out. His four-year spike in power might be pointed out, too. Jose Canseco’s claim that he personally injected Rodriguez will come up.
There’s an explanation for the first two.
Rodriguez said he lost the weight because he couldn’t eat while going through a divorce. My best friend’s dad lost a ton of weight after going through a divorce. It can happen.
Rodriguez’s peak homer years came as he entered what are widely regarded as a player’s peak years. Happens often.
Unless hard evidence comes down, like that federally protected list of PED users from the 2003 season, Rodriguez should be taken at his word.
You’re likely to hear a lot of them this week, thanks to a conveniently dropped excerpt from his new book.