The first of four September off days for the Texas Rangers will arrive on the first day of September, and they will take it.
I’ve never bought into the notion that a hot team would rather play than have an off day.
The Rangers have played 134 games this season at 80-54, matching the best 134-game record in franchise history, and they plan to play at least 11 more in the postseason.
They want their rest, darn it.
They deserve it after the first seven games to open their biggest homestand of the season. They lost only one of them while playing two playoff contenders, and now get the team most thought would win the American League West this season.
The Houston Astros, though, are in second place, 8 1/2-games back. As important as the series is for the Rangers, it’s more important for the Astros.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 14-1 victory.
1. The Seattle Mariners can start making plans for the off-season.
They needed a big series against the Rangers, a series they opened in a second-place tie. Instead, they got swept and are 11 1/2 games back in third place.
The wild card remains a possibility, but even those hopes have faded badly.
The Rangers, meanwhile, can put the West out of reach with a sweep of the Astros, and the head-to-head record this season (11-2) suggests that it’s possible. The Rangers are 11-4 against the Mariners.
Just a series win would make the Astros’ division hopes dwindle even more. Even if the Astros have a good series, they have a tough road ahead.
After the three games this weekend at Globe Life Park, the Astros head to Cleveland for four games and then go home for three games each against the Chicago Cubs and Rangers.
Houston follows up that stretch with a trip to Seattle.
Advantage: Rangers, no matter what happens this weekend.
2. The scouting report on Rougned Odor as he broke into the majors was that he might be capable of a 20-homer season as a big leaguer. He has blown past that mark on is on the verge of 30 home runs in 2016.
The second baseman hit two more Wednesday to give him 27 on the year. Pitchers continue to throw him fastballs, and he continues to hit them over the fence.
In doing so, he’s keeping a stiff arm on Adrian Beltre for the team lead in homers.
Beltre suddenly has 25 for the ninth time in his career. Only three other third basemen in baseball history have more 25-homer seasons than Beltre — Mike Schmidt (12), Eddie Mathews (12) and Aramis Ramirez (10).
Beltre didn’t top 20 the past two seasons. In 2014, he was the only viable offensive player the Rangers had during their injury-wrecked season, so pitchers could throw around him. A thumb injury limited him in 2015.
If he keeps up with this, hitting homers and driving in runs and pushing his average toward .300 while playing a high level of defense, he could be headed toward a high finish in MVP balloting.
Jose Altuve, Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout are the front-runners, but Beltre is going to open some eyes if he keeps putting up big numbers.
3. The Rangers will be without Jeremy Jeffress for a month, give or take a few days, as he heads to a Houston treatment facility to deal with whatever it is he’s dealing with after an arrest Friday on the suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
He will avoid suspension from MLB, according to Yahoo Sports, and will be eligible for the postseason. Whether he’s in the right frame of mind to pitch in the postseason is another question.
Jeffress has a history with marijuana, failing three tests while in the minor leagues. The last was in 2009. He deals daily with anxiety that has resulted from juvenile epilepsy, which was diagnosed while he was in the minors.
MLB players can’t be tested for marijuana under the Joint Drug Agreement, unless they give probable cause. The Dallas police officers who arrested Jeffress said in an affidavit that they found a green leafy substance in his car and took a blood sample to be tested.
That’s probable cause, but apparently he won’t be banned.
There’s no word, nor will there be, on whether Jeffress is seeking treatment for marijuana or alcohol. The important thing is that he’s seeking treatment, acknowledging that he has a problem that must be addressed.
At the very least his current course will have him ready for 2017. He might pitch again this season. He might not. The Rangers could use him, but he needs to fix himself first.