For three months a year, maybe up to five, the fine people of Minnesota can make a claim their summertime weather is better than anywhere else United States.
Folks in Hawaii, San Diego and some northern locales might object, but at the very least Friday was a top-five day nationwide.
For a few of us on the Texas Rangers’ road trip who live in the Lone Star State, though, it was a bit nippy at times Friday.
When I went to breakfast, it was brilliantly sunny but only 59 degrees. As I went for a walk/jog along the Mississippi River, it was chilly in the shaded areas downtown. When the press box windows opened, I put on a jacket.
I wasn’t the only one equipped with a jacket. I wasn’t the only one to wear one. I’m not ashamed. I’m also not complaining about the great Minnesota summer weather.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 3-2 win.
1. Raise your hand if you were thinking that the Rangers were headed toward a walk-off loss to the Minnesota Twins. A look at the Twitter knows some of you were.
That’s fine. In this bidness these days, with information needed as soon as humanly possible, writers are forced to write stories two ways — a win and a loss — to be ready to post as soon as the game ends.
The good news for the Rangers is that they have Ian Desmond on their team, and he has thrived this season late in game. His homer to start the 10th proved to be the game-winning run.
His team-leading 15th homer of the season was his MLB-leading fifth go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later. So, not only is his pacing toward the best season of his career, he’s also delivering in the clutch.
He also delivers in postgame interviews and could be leading the league in humility. He pretty much gave all the credit for the win to anyone but him, starting with the bounce-back bullpen performances by Matt Bush and Sam Dyson, Jurickson Profar’s pinch two-run single and Martin Perez’s seven quality innings.
When it came to his homer and three-hit game, he credited assistant hitting coach Bobby Jones. During Thursday’s game, Jones told Desmond to stick with his approach of using right field.
A fifth-inning double hit off the wall in right-center, and the homer cleared the wall in right-center.
When Desmond came to the Rangers, he tested off the charts for the kind of teammate he is and the work ethic he displays. He was loved by players in Washington, and the Rangers warmed to him in about, oh, one day of spring camp.
Desmond is the kind of guy teams want to have, need to have and are lucky to have.
He can hit a little, too.
2. The Rangers won for the eighth consecutive Martin Perez start, and his effort against the Twins was arguably his best.
The two-run homer he allowed in his seventh and final inning tainted the performance somewhat, only because it came shortly after Profar’s single gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead. But Perez took a shutout into the sixth inning by doing what he has done better than any other MLB pitcher.
He induced two more ground-ball double plays to escape possible trouble in the fourth and the sixth, and got another double play in the fifth as the Twins choked on a squeeze play and killed their best chance.
Kurt Suzuki popped up the bunt, Mitch Moreland caught it and the runner had no chance to get back to third.
Perez knows that he deserves much of his success to the double plays. His two-seamer isn’t the only pitch that gets hitters to put the ball on the ground. It’s can’t be, because he entered his team-leading 17th start with the fourth-highest ground-ball percentage in MLB.
Speaking of turbo sinkers, Dyson had his going in the 10th. After a leadoff single, Suzuki was asked to bunt, and missed twice before striking out.
“It’s not easy to bunt two-seamers, sinkers or whatever you want to call it,” Dyson said. “I was OK with it.”
3. One of the biggest misnomers in baseball is calling the part of the season that comes after the All-Star Game “the second half.” It’s perfectly understandable to call it that, with a four-game vacation in the middle of the season, but it’s not accurate.
The Rangers finished the official first half of their season Friday. They have played 81 games and have 81 to go. They will enter the All-Star break with 90 games played and 72 to go in the “second half.”
Now here’s this:
Never in the previous 44 season of Rangers baseball did they have a better first half than the one this season. The Rangers have 52 wins, the most in the majors and the most in club history at this point in a season.
It took 88 games to win the American League West last season. The Rangers can hit that mark by playing .444 baseball (36-45) the rest of the way.
With as well as the Houston Astros are playing, 88 games might not be enough. The Astros played their 80th game Friday, winning it 5-0 for their fourth straight win and their 10th in 11 games.
They have 43 wins, so they need to play .549 ball (45-37) to hit the 88-win plateau.
No matter the math and in spite of Wednesday, Thursday and the other seven walk-off losses the Rangers have this season, they had an exceptional first half.