The train keeps rolling for the Texas Rangers. And it’s gaining steam. If you’re not fulling on board already you perhaps might want to ask yourself why you loved baseball in the first place.
The Rangers have never won like this. Oh, sure, they’ve been to a couple of World Series, and until they do that again (and take the title) those seasons deserve to be ranked Nos. 1 and 2. But just for winning games and playing consistently well through the first two and a half months? They’ve never played as well as they have so far in 2016. With one more win in St. Louis, they’ll set a franchise record with their ninth consecutive series win. Texas is 43-25, a .632 winning percentage they’ve never had 68 games into a season. Here are three reasons why they kept it going in a 1-0 win against the Cardinals Friday night at Busch Stadium:
1. Cole Hamels — Hamels pitched his best game of the season with 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals. It’s the most scoreless innings he’s pitched since throwing a no-hitter against the Cubs in his last start for the Phillies in July. He’s been outstanding over four starts in June, a span of 28 2/3 innings when he’s allowed just six runs on 17 hits. He lowered his ERA to 2.88, closing in on Colby Lewis’ team-leading 2.81.
2. Rougned Odor — His solo homer in the fifth was the difference Friday night. It’s his team-leading 13th. Someone on Twitter (perhaps a couple of you even?) declared that Odor would lead the team in homers this season. I scoffed, more because, to me, that would mean the usual big bangers such as Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre had down power years. But I also thought Odor would max out at 20-25 homers. He’s on pace to hit more than 33 ... and lead the team.
3. Hammer time — Matt Bush, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson have combined to become a three-armed hammer to close out games. Since Dyson became the closer on May 18, the Rangers are 21-6. Dyson is 10 for 10 in save opportunities since becoming the closer. He pitched a perfect ninth against the Cards to earn his 12th save, Bush took over for Hamels in the eighth to get the final out. Dyson has allowed four earned runs in 15 1/3 innings since becoming the closer. Bush has allowed two earned runs in 12 innings since the change and Diekman hasn’t allowed any earned runs in 12 innings since the change. Combined that’s 39 1/3 innings for a 1.37 ERA. Salty.