The Texas Rangers are 12 games above .500 and the owners of the best record in the American League.
They’ve reached the top despite going 2-9 in games decided in the ninth inning or later, a mark that includes seven walk-off losses.
They might want to consider wearing their red jerseys more often. They took care of the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, improving to 9-0 this season when wearing the alternate reds.
The win gave the Rangers a three-game sweep and a three-game lead in the AL West over the Mariners, who had won nine of 14 entering the series.
Next up for the Rangers is another hot team, the Houston Astros. They have won 11 of their past 13 games, and probably are seeing red after losing the first six games to the Rangers this season.
The Rangers have won 12 of their past 15. No. 12 wasn’t easy.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 3-2 victory.
1. Prince Fielder spoke to the media Sunday morning. He wasn’t particularly excited to do it, but he was more excited talking to us than he was to be out of the lineup for a second straight game. One game probably didn’t sit well with him.
But something different had to be done. Continuing to let Fielder play wasn’t working, though sitting on him for much longer won’t work very well either. At some point he has to play again, though how on earth can Jurickson Profar be sat at this point?
Fielder was revealing. He knows why he’s struggling (chasing too many pitches) and believes he knows the way out of his funk (playing every day).
He said a few things that got the Twitter fired up, like when he half-jokingly (I think) said that all that’s hurting him is “just his heart and his feelings.” Even the notion that he thinks he should be playing every game got the people fired up.
My tweet that Fielder is in a no-win situation didn’t fly too well, either. But it’s true: When he doesn’t show any emotion, he catches hell. When finally does show emotion, he catches hell.
If anything, he is showing that he does care.
So, the hate must run deeper. He’s overpaid. Aren’t they all? He’s too heavy. Hasn’t he always been?
The tune will change when Fielder comes out of this funk. That’s not an if. The when, though, is in question.
2. Another Rangers player often on the receiving end of too much crap from the people is Elvis Andrus, who will never live down Game 5 last year and the long list of outs he has made on the bases throughout the years.
But there has been plenty of good on those same bases, and his fifth-inning dash home Sunday was one of the best.
He was at third with one out when Bobby Wilson lifted a popup to shallow left field. Stefen Romero caught it, and then Andrus caught him off-guard.
Andrus saw Romero hesitate and then raced toward home. Romero’s lollipop throw wasn’t in time.
Here are their points of view:
“I know it was a shallow fly ball, but I tagged,” Andrus said. “You never know what can happen. In that situation I was just hoping he’d kind of flare the ball to the infield or not be in position to throw the ball.
“As soon as he caught it I just started jogging a little bit. As soon as I saw him get a little bit lazy I just took off for home plate, knowing that when you throw the ball and you’re not in a good throwing position it’s going to be hard to make a good throw even if you’re close. I took my chances, and I’m glad I made it.”
Said Romero: “It was a shallow hit ball, and I was coming in. My first instinct was he was going to fake-break or something. I caught it and came up and there was no movement, so I double-pumped.
“He was nonchalant. That’s when I was going to throw. And then I saw him take off and I just tried to make a good throw. If I could do it again, I would just get it in, just throw it, even if he’s not running.
“It’s frustrating. It was a pitcher’s duel and hits were at a premium. I needed to be a little bit more aggressive throwing it in.”
Andrus is batting .293 this season wit six errors in 51 games. Last year through 51 games he was batting .241 with 11 errors.
He’s more focused and more confident this season, and maybe that contract of his isn’t quite isn’t as impossible to move as it was a year ago.
3. Derek Holland has arguably his best start of the season, going a season-high seven innings and registering a season-high six strikeouts. It was his fourth straight quality start after the two clunkers in May.
Fielder and Andrus have nothing on Holland, who catches more hell on the Twitter than any Rangers player. As long as he’s goofy, he’ll always be dogged.
He’s knows it. He also knows that he’s having a good season, and he’s getting better. The key has been his mechanics, which he is able to repeat more often. That has led to more consistent movement and better command.
Manager Jeff Banister liked how Holland used his fastball to change the eye levels of the Mariners’ top hitters. Holland made one mistake to Nelson Cruz, who crushed a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Mariners’ No. 2-6 hitters were only 2 for 14 against Holland.
That will do.
The seven innings Sunday could prove to be big in a week or two, when the Rangers are trying to trudge through 20 games in 20 days. The burden falls on the rotations during those stretches.
If the rotation can avoid short starts, the bullpen can find a way to survive. If not, that’s when traveling secretary Josh Shelton gets to figure out how to get a Triple A reliever from, say, Des Moines, Iowa, to Seattle on a moment’s notice.
The Rangers’ rotation has been among the best, if not the best, this season in the AL. They have just started the biggest stretch so far.