Oh, Canada: Rangers manager Jeff Banister weighs in
Baseball is often explained and interpreted with streaks and stretches to illustrate how a team or player is doing at any particular segment of the season.
In that case, the Texas Rangers hit their high-water mark in Toronto on Saturday. The Rangers won their season-high, third consecutive game and clinched their second series win of the season. The Blue Jays thwarted a sweep with a 7-2 win in the series finale at the Rogers Centre on Sunday.
But as a whole, especially considering the state of the roster since injuries sidelined four starters within the first month, including their two most important offensive players in Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre, the club is playing better baseball, if only for a small window.
The relief corps has been outstanding of late, even including Sunday when the bullpen was charged with two earned runs. But that was over four innings thanks to Martin Perez's short abbreviated start.
It's on to Cleveland to take on the Indians who are atop the American League Central with a 14-12 start.
Here are five thoughts from the Great White North:
1. DeShields Factor — In just a week, Delino DeShields' return to the lineup has made a noticeable difference to the offense. Of course, getting your speedy lead-off hitter with three years of major league experience back atop the lineup should make a difference. But as much as its about DeShields' specific skills, it's also important for how much it helps stretch out the lineup as a whole. He also adds an important emotional element to the dugout, especially with some veterans out injured.
"Any time you get some of your core group back there’s confidence, there’s energy," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He plays with emotion and energy. When Delino is on base we have a greater chance to score."
And DeShields, who has three stolen bases in seven games since his return, helps distract pitchers while on the bases, which can help lead to better pitches for other hitters.
"They have to pay attention," Banister said. "They have to be able to split their concentration between him and the plate."
2. Rougie update — Second baseman Rougned Odor has been taking grounders (without range), batting practice and jogging the arc of the field this weekend in Toronto. Odor, who has been out with a left hamstring strain since April 10, feels like he's ahead of schedule. Banister said it's still too early to pinpoint have far away Odor is from returning. He's likely to need a few rehab games in the minors before returning to the Rangers' roster.
Banister made a clear distinction between jogging and running. "I consider running [to mean] sprinting," he said. "He’s added some baseball activities. It all depends on the healing process of the hamstring and when the doctors feel like he's ready to go 100 percent."
3. Rua's catch/no catch — Ryan Rua made a spectacular catch in foul territory in the sixth inning on Sunday. Or did he? He made the catch sliding feet first into the padded wall along the left-field line. It was ruled a catch by the umpires but reviewed after the Blue Jays thought he caught if off a bounce. Replays seemed to show the ball bouncing off the turf (or was it his glove?) and into the palm of his glove. The call stood and the inning was over. Rua thinks he caught, but even he's not completely sure.
"I felt it hit the finger of my glove and roll up to my palm," he said. "On video you kind of see it bounce but you really can’t see my glove. Honestly, I thought it hit maybe my glove and the turf."
It was one of those plays, Rua said, that replays couldn't decipher conclusively so the original call held.
"You never know. He called it a catch so there has to be evidence that it wasn’t a catch," he said. "We’ve been on the unfortunate side of that a couple of times this year."
Rua said his legs were fine despite crashing pretty hard into the wall.
4. Prospect hurt — One of the Rangers' top minor league prospects catcher Jose Trevino has been placed on Double-A Frisco's seven-day disabled list with a strained right quad. According to reports, Trevino pulled up gimpy running out a groundball.
5. Official scoring — Rua's second-inning fly ball off the right-field wall in Saturday's game was originally ruled an error on Teoscar Hernandez. Later, it was changed to a triple. It was an appropriate flip because the ball, while not above Hernandez (it actually hit the wall below his glove), it was not an easy, routine play. No matter what Statcast's catch probability says, which had it at 99 percent. Banister was happy with the change but doesn't envy the job of the official scorer or the umpires. "There's a committee that can overrule you," he said. "After 30-40 years in the game, I could not have that job."