At long last the Texas Rangers have an off day.
They don’t play a game Thursday for the first time since June 3, though a few hardy souls will come to Globe Life Park on Thursday night for the third Do It For Durrett Foundation event.
The event has been sold out for more than a month, but anyone who wishes to make a donation to help area families affected by the sudden loss of a parent can do so by visiting doitfordurrett.com.
The Rangers have earned their day off after playing .800 baseball during their stretch of 20 games on 20 straight days, which was capped with a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
That’s pretty good.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an eventful Wednesday.
1. A true sign of how bad your favorite team is doing is when you’re left to root for the demise of the division-leading team’s health. Also high on the list is a blind faith in stats that suggest the division-leading team is a fluke.
Such was the case on the Twitter with some fans of the two clubs behind the Rangers, Houston and Seattle. Those fans were propped up Wednesday by the injuries to Colby Lewis and Derek Holland.
They are a blow to the Rangers, no doubt. Lewis was possibly headed to his first career All-Star appearance. Holland, while struggling, has more career shutouts than Cole Hamels.
They are being replaced by A.J Griffin and TBA, who is likely to be Chi Chi Gonzalez or Kyle Lohse. Nick Martinez will take over Yu Darvish’s spot Friday.
Griffin, as memory serves, was really, really good in April and May before his shoulder tightened up on him.
Gonzalez has made recent strides, said general manager Jon Daniels. Lohse is said to be doing anywhere from OK to all right to good.
Not exactly ringing endorsements for either one.
Darvish is making progress, but I can’t see him returning before the All-Star break. He will beat Lewis and Holland back, though.
So, the Rangers find themselves facing a challenge for the first time this season. This isn’t anything unfamiliar to them, nor is it something that is going to cripple them or cost them the division.
Really, the worry comes with Martinez and TBA, even though Martinez has almost 50 career starts. They will start seven of the Rangers’ final 17 games before the All-Star break. Could the Rangers lose all seven? I guess. Could the Astros win on the seven days they pitch? Anything’s possible.
If that were to happen, the Rangers would still be leading the division.
Darvish replaces Martinez or TBA after the All-Star break. Holland doesn’t think he’s too far behind.
This is a speed bump, a fairly big one but not one of those speed humps found in school zones.
And there’s always this: The Rangers have enough depth in their farm system to trade for just about any pitcher they want. They don’t want to part with any of them, but they want to win, too.
Speaking of trades ...
2. Heck, yes, the Rangers are going to try to make a trade. They’ve been trying.
They want controllable pitchers. (Who doesn’t?) Among those meeting that requirement on non-contending clubs are Atlanta’s Julio Teheran, Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi and Oakland’s Sonny Gray.
With the way the Chicago White Sox are playing, maybe Chris Sale becomes available.
The A’s don’t seem inclined to move Gray, who is having a down year but remains their best pitcher. The Rangers probably don’t want to deal away stud prospects within the division, but that didn’t stop them in 2010 when acquiring Cliff Lee from Seattle.
The White Sox don’t seem inclined to move Sale, either, but he was asked about it this week and said he wants to stay. His contract for the next three seasons rates as one of the biggest bargains in baseball, and there might not be a prospect the Rangers wouldn’t trade to get him.
It’s probably a long shot, but who knows?
The Rangers are also looking to add a bullpen piece, though the return of Keone Kela is going to be like getting a piece at the deadline. His absence has been as big as any the Rangers have dealt with in the first half.
And don’t sleep on Tanner Scheppers. The Rangers loved the way he was pitching in the off-season before his knee injury was addressed. He’ll pitch for them in the season half.
Those two will return in July and help give rest to the key pieces in the bullpen who started to get time off during the stretch of 20 games in 20 consecutive days.
Speaking of that stretch ...
3. The Rangers went 16-4 during their 20-game marathon, the longest stretch of games on consecutive days allowable without a team’s permission in MLB. They entered the stretch tied for first place in the West with Seattle.
The lead as of Wednesday night was 10 games over Houston.
These Rangers are the first in club history to ever have a 10-game lead before September, and it’s only the fourth season in club history that a team has managed a 10-game lead.
Asked what the stretch did for his club, manager Jeff Banister struck on the obvious and then found about, oh, a dozen more things. The leading one was it gave them confidence.
The Rangers found all kinds of ways to win during the stretch. Many of the wins were by narrow margins. Many were come-from-behind wins. Five were without Adrian Beltre. A few came with key bullpen pieces resting.
I’d be confident, too.
Will confidence help them going forward without Lewis and Holland? It can’t hurt.
Keep in mind that this is a veteran club. Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara are young, but the other seven regulars have been through just about everything this game has to offer.
They just went through a stretch of 20 games in 20 straight days at 16-4.
Another tough stretch — without Lewis and Holland — is straight ahead.