Maybe now it’s finally a party.
Mark the date. Warn the neighbors.
Party at Napoli’s, finally.
Admittedly, Globe Life Park has been anything but a party this season. Mike Napoli and the Texas Rangers began Thursday night well-ensconced in last place.
Bats have been dormant, to use a polite euphemism. Runs have seemed to come only in sporadic bunches.
This lineup is better than that, and they know it. Their career numbers show it.
Yet, the Rangers began the day batting .218 as a team. There are pitchers in the National League hitting better than .218.
They ended the day with a 5-2 victory, thanks to Napoli’s walk-off three-run home run in the ninth. It was his second home run of the game after a solo shot in the eighth.
All small sample sizes aside, 36 games should be enough to start a fire, even using a cold Louisville Slugger as kindling. But it’s been weird, at best, and a Jobu-invoking slump, at worst.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is a career .284 hitter, yet his season average was at .190 not that long ago.
Second baseman Rougned Odor, after hitting 33 homers last season, had a promising first week of the season, but has hit .165 since.
Napoli’s slump, meanwhile, goes back to August of last season when he was with Cleveland and before the “Party at Napoli’s” phrase was emblazoned on T-shirts.
No sport trusts its numbers like baseball. And even to the baseball projection-niks, the Rangers’ upside-down start has been befuddling.
Upside down, as in Rangers starting pitchers owning a group ERA of 3.39, second best in the American League.
It’s been the bullpen that has been handing opposing teams’ victories.
The lowest hitting teams in the league? Kansas City, Texas and Toronto — teams with lineups that have postseasons in their immediate pasts.
Against the San Diego Padres on Thursday, the Rangers’ frustrations at the plate continued. Padres lefty Clayton Richard allowed only three singles through the first seven innings. Not a single Ranger reached second base.
These were the Padres and Clayton Richard, not the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw. Richard’s signature is inducing the ground ball. He began the night with the second-best ground-ball percentage (63.8) in baseball.
And the eagerly swinging Rangers complied. The home team had only three fly-ball outs through the first seven innings.
Suddenly, though, it was party time for Napoli.
His lead-off home run in the eighth off Richard cut the San Diego lead to 2-1.
If anything, the ninth inning showed that manager Jeff Banister’s lineup still remembers how to do this hitting and scoring thing. Elvis Andrus hit a one-out single and made a fortuitous read on Lucroy’s bloop hit that followed.
Odor followed by slapping a game-tying single through the left side — the kind of at-bat that he needs to include in his repertoire more often. Odor has now hit in seven of his last nine games, a spark the lineup has needed desperately.
Napoli’s towering homer into the club deck in left field ended it and earned him a postgame cooler shower.
It’s how all the parties are celebrating these days. The Rangers just haven’t been throwing many this season.
They began the night batting .189 against lefties.
Mark the date, though. If anybody was going to U-turn the lineup’s miserable start, it was going to have to be Mike Napoli.
Maybe now, finally, it’s a party.
Gil LeBreton: @gilebreton