What a difference four days can make.
The Texas Rangers led the American League West by 2 1/2 games ahead of the Houston Astros after games Wednesday.
Here’s how the next four days went:
Rangers: Win, win, win win.
Astros: Off, loss, loss, loss.
That equals a 3 1/2 -game bump in the standings and a six-game lead entering Monday, a Rangers off day ahead of an eight-game road trip to Baltimore, Houston and Colorado. Those three teams are a combined 20 games over .500, and the Orioles have the best home record in baseball.
They’re two days away, though.
The trade deadline is less than 24 hours away.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-3 win Sunday.
1. The trade that many assumed the Rangers were going to make over the winter and early in the season could be coming down ahead of Monday’s 3 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.
The Rangers are engaged with the Milwaukee Brewers about catcher Jonathan Lucroy, one of the finest in the game. He would come under contract for the rest of this season and 2017 on a laughably affordable club option and instantly upgrade the Rangers’ lineup and defense behind the plate.
Lucroy might also come with hard-throwing right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers’ closer. With starting pitching becoming too expensive this trade market, the Rangers look to be turning to the philosophy of scoring as much as possible and shortening games with a lock-down bullpen.
That last part sounds familiar. If at first you don’t succeed ... .
Lucroy remains available because he turned down a trade to the Cleveland Indians. I guess he doesn’t think Cleveland is as nice as the Republicans made it out to be. (For the record, Cleveland is fine by me.)
But the Brewers’ hand was shown. The Indians were going to surrender four prospects, none of them in their top three but all in their top 30. That was just for Lucroy.
Add in a reliever who is controllable beyond 2016, and that’s how Joey Gallo’s name starts to get involved.
2. Gallo was out of the starting lineup for the series finale, with manager Jeff Banister opting to give Hanser Alberto a day a third base instead of Gallo while Adrian Beltre got a day a designated hitter.
Or maybe the possibility that Gallo would be traded played a role.
Gallo probably needed to sit after going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts Saturday, a performance that had a few fans booing him and many on the Twitter saying that he is killing his trade value.
(Insert eye-rolling here.)
The Rangers aren’t panicking, and it’s doubtful that the clubs who coveted him in trades a week ago have backed off. Everyone knows that with his upside comes strikeouts and the risk of extended slumps.
Banister also admitted that the Rangers have to be patient with Gallo and continue to develop him. When Shin-Soo Choo is activated from the disabled list Thursday or shortly thereafter, Gallo could be sent back to Triple A to continue his development.
But he’s not hurting his trade value and there’s no need to boo him.
I hope no one has to visit a doctor from all that knee-jerking.
3. Lucas Harrell proved that he is better than the pitcher he was the last time the Rangers saw him and a better pitcher than Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez have been this season.
Harrell allowed three runs on four hits in six innings in his Rangers debut four days after he was traded by the Atlanta Braves. There were some issues with his control, as he threw just more than half is 94 pitches for strikes, but he kept the ball on the ground for the most part and showed that he can field his position.
Is Harrell going to be in the rotation once Colby Lewis and/or Derek Holland are healthy? It’s possible, though A.J. Griffin might have the inside track. But that’s a month away, and a lot can happen over a month’s time.
A lot could happen ahead of the trade deadline, too.
But for those who are big on first impressions, Harrell made a nice one.