What, if anything, is there to glean from the winning stretch?
For one, the Rangers are a little better team than they've played for most of the first three months of the season. Missing Elvis Andrus since April 12 has been a tough hole to fill for the offense and, if the starting pitching is good enough, the bullpen has enough quality arms to finish the deal.
Perhaps the win streak will turn out to be nothing more than trade auditions before the July 31 deadline. That's fine too. The club has an off day Thursday before beginning a three-game set against the Twins in Minnesota on Friday.
Five reasons for the five-game win streak:
1. Elvis' Comeback — Don't discount the return of Elvis Andrus for Monday's opener against the Royals. Sure, he doesn't have much to show offensively yet (he's 1-for-12 with one run scored) but his presence in the lineup stretches the Rangers' offense drastically.
2. Steady starting pitching — Take out the wild, 13-12 win over the Rockies on Sunday and the Rangers' rotation has put together a nice run. Starting with Mike Minor's two runs over seven innings in Saturday's win, Rangers' starters have allowed seven runs total in four of the five wins. Cole Hamels and Austin Bibens-Dirkx combined to hold the Royals to one earned run in 13 2/3 innings.
3. Dominant bullpen — Rangers' relievers have allowed just one run in their past 7 1/3 innings (and the lone run came on a home run against Jake Diekman in the ninth inning Wednesday). Despite allowing seven runs in four innings on Sunday, the bullpen has been the steadiest part of the team this season. Closer Keone Kela is 17-for-17 in save chances, including three during the win streak.
4. The Choo factor — Shin-Soo Choo has a 34-game on-base streak going and has set a tone as the lead-off hitter since returning there full time on June 2. He's 7-for-20 with three runs scored, two RBIs and five walks during the win streak. Choo is hitting .333 with nine runs scored and six RBIs the past two weeks.
5. Youth movement — The emergence of rookies Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronald Guzman has been one of the pleasant surprises during a mostly disappointing first half. Kiner-Falefa has hits (including four doubles) in his past seven starts, including Wednesday night when he made his first big league start at catcher. He has three RBIs and three runs scored during the streak. Guzman has four hits, including a double, and two runs scored in the stretch and continues to play excellent defense at first base.