The opening road trip to 2016 for the Texas Rangers will be a winning one, and the worst the Rangers can be upon their return to Globe Life Park on Thursday is 5-5.
Their offense and bullpen have started to click, and the starting rotation continues to put the Rangers in position to win.
The biggest downer of the trip has been the weather. Orange County wasn’t perfect. It was far from it, with constant clouds and even some rain. Seattle has been Seattle, which isn’t good this time of year.
But warmer temperatures and sunshine await back home. It’s time to get going.
Here is some Rangers Reaction from an 8-0 win Tuesday.
1. Adrian Beltre used to joke that he was only good in his walk years, the season before he can hit free agency. That’s what dogged him when he signed with the Rangers early in 2011, but the numbers didn’t lie.
Maybe Beltre, who can be a free agent after this season, is on his way to another big walk year. His play through nine games suggests that he is.
Nine games is 5.5 percent of the season, but do the Rangers really want to wait and see what happens over the remaining 94.5 percent?
General manager Jon Daniels knows that he’s dealing with a unique case. He even used the word unique to describe Beltre way back in mid-February when there was hope that an extension would be agreed upon during spring training. Beltre is 37, a future Hall of Famer, and still a productive player who would draw suitors in the off-season.
The 11th five-RBI game of Adrian Beltre’s career gave him 1,475 RBIs in his career, which is tied for 56th all-time with Hall of Famer Billy Williams.
Beltre is the only one who has revealed where things stand — Daniels took something to Rangers ownership, and Beltre and agent Scott Boras never heard back. That’s closing in on a month ago, and the more the media talks to Beltre and the further he gets into the season, the more he seems content with hitting the market.
He did indicate a lack of respect being shown to him.
It only takes one phone call, if it’s the right phone call, to get the ball rolling. Beltre won’t negotiate during the season, but he will say yes or no to a proposal. The assumption here is that Boras knows what Beltre wants and will only take something to him if the Rangers go there.
They might want to think more seriously about how to get there.
2. These Rangers starting pitchers have been among the best in baseball so far this season, and Derek Holland helped them make team history Tuesday night.
The 2016 Rangers are the first club in franchise history to see the rotation start the season with eight quality starts in nine games and the first to have its first nine starts be at least five innings with no more than three runs allowed.
Holland turned in the best performance, going 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing only a flare single and three infield hits. He was in control throughout, though he needed some fine defensive work to help him out.
2.95 ERA for the Rangers’ starting pitchers through nine games
Holland has the rotation’s worst start, the lone outing that wasn’t a quality start. It was still good enough — five innings, three runs — to give the Rangers a chance Thursday at Anaheim, but the Angels walked off winners.
The question is how will the rotation sustain that success? Playing at Safeco Field would help. Angel Stadium, too. Cole Hamels, though, says that the starters are holding each other accountable and jumping on mistakes to get them fixed quickly.
No one wants to be the weak link. That can be motivating.
3. Nomar Mazara, it turns out, can play a little defense, too.
He helped keep the Mariners scoreless early on with a diving catch near the right-field corner to rob Chris Iannetta of a double with a runner on first and one out, and a running catch at the wall in right-center to rob Leonys Martin of at least a double.
Mazara’s bat has always been his calling card, and he has always had a strong arm. But his footwork has been better than even what the Rangers saw in spring training, when they observed an average outfielder.
Any deficiencies now might get corrected some by the more advanced scouting and positioning the Rangers employ than Mazara has seen in the minors. The Rangers do some analytics-based positioning in the minors, Bansiter said, but not to the same level as in the majors.
But give the 20-year-old Mazara some credit, too. Each catch came after a long run at a ballpark where he had played only one career game, so he showed aptitude in addition to some awareness and athletic ability.
The diving catch to his left wasn’t too close to a wall, but the running catch in right-center came at the wall and with center fielder Delino DeShields sliding to get out of his way and after Mazara had taken his eye off the ball to try to catch up with it.
He knows what he’s doing out there and has a chance to get better.
It’s definitely going to be a help and take him from being an average defender, with the ability to position him to where we think the ball is going to be hit, to free him up.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister on analytics aiding Nomar Mazara’s defense
4. For those who haven’t been paying attention or simply choose to not monitor the minor leagues, the Rangers’ four full-season affiliates are rolling to open the season.
All four started 3-0, three started 4-0, and Double A Frisco started 5-0 before losing Tuesday. The worst of the bunch is High A High Desert, which lost Tuesday night to fall to 4-2.
The other three — Triple A Round Rock, Frisco and Low A Hickory — are 5-1.
The teams are winning in a variety of ways, though pitching has carried the load. Nick Martinez was the winner for Round Rock on Tuesday, and Matt Bush is serving as Frisco’s closer.
At hitter-friendly High Desert, former first-round pick Travis Demeritte, trying to jump-start his career after a 2015 suspension for a banned substance, has already hit five homers.
For those interested, Frisco plays its home opener Thursday night and Round Rock opens its home schedule Friday night.
People should be interested in what happens on the Rangers’ farm.