The Rangers ooze confidence on and off the field at the moment and can you blame them?
They're playing the best baseball in the majors south of Wrigleyville and show no signs of slowing down.
To wit, they've done it without Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland being much of an offensive factor and Yu Darvish unavailable for most of the first two months. They’ve also been without reliever Keone Kela for much of the season and haven’t had A.J. Griffin since May 8. Of course, all teams deal with injuries. But these are potentially integral players who could help provide a second wind in the second half.
So what happens when this team really puts it all together? Must be a scary thought for the rest of the American League West. For the rest of the league, for that matter.
Texas has won a franchise-best nine consecutive series and 12 of its past 13.
The Rangers close out their season-longest 10-game road trip Sunday and finish up a grueling stretch of 20 games in 20 days on Wednesday. They could lose the next four and still go 13-7 in the stretch and will still lead the second-place Mariners by no less than 3 1/2 games before opening a three-game set against the Red Sox Friday at Globe Life Park.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here are three reasons the Rangers are 13-4 in June:
1. The Pitching — Among the A.L., the Rangers’ 3.74 ERA is third-lowest and their 14 homers allowed are the second-fewest. They’re holding hitters to an A.L. low .229 batting average in the month despite striking out a league-low 105 batters. The bullpen has been outstanding in June with Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, Matt Bush, Cesar Ramos and Shawn Tolleson combining to allow three earned runs in 31 2/3 innings.
2. The Offense — In June, the Rangers have hit 29 homers, third most in the majors. They’re also batting .274 as a team, seventh-best in the league and have the fifth-best slugging percentage (.466) and OPS (.801). Ian Desmond has stayed hot and leads the team in June with a .358 batting average, 24 hits, five doubles and 13 RBI.
3. The Defense — Although the Rangers have made 14 errors in June they’ve been making excellent defensive plays, such as Ian Desmond’s throw home to Robinson Chirinos in the fifth to nail Kolton Wong trying to extend the Cardinals’ lead. Ryan Rua, in at first base in the bottom of the ninth after pinch-hitting, snared a line drive to end the game. The Rangers have turned a major league-leading 90 double plays, 16 more than the next closest team.