Rangers Ian Desmond: "A lot of good things going on right now"
The Texas Rangers, as they have done on the field for the better part of a month, are playing it cool.
They finished a 20-day stretch 16-4 to build a 10-game lead in the American League West, just the fourth time they’ve led the division by 10 games (1999, 2010 and 2011). Never, however, have they led by so many so early.
10 Games the Rangers lead the AL West by after Wednesday’s win. It’s the fourth time in club history to lead by 10 games (1999, 2010 and 2011).
Those previous 10-game leads didn’t come until September.
“I don’t think any player in here could tell you what the lead is and I think that’s a good thing,” said Ian Desmond, who came off the bench in the seventh Wednesday to homer in the Rangers’ 6-4 win against the Reds.
“I think if everyone takes care of themselves and plays the best that they can play then we’re going to have a really good product on the field every day. The rest of that stuff really doesn’t matter. It’s the marathon, not the sprint. No one really cares how you got out at the start. You still have to show the endurance to make it the rest of the way.”
That’s impressive, no doubt. We’re not giving more than 27 outs to other teams. Pitching and defense has been great.
Sure, but the confidence cultivated during what was expected to be a grueling stretch of 20 consecutive games has taken the club to its best record after 73 games (47-26). All the winning has fortified an already tight clubhouse.
They’ll need it, too. They’re back at it Friday with a 17-game stretch before the All-Star break. They host the Red Sox for three before a 10-game road trip against the Yankees, Twins and Red Sox.
“Any time you put a 16-4 stretch together it puts you in a position where we can go into every game with a lot of confidence,” manager Jeff Banister said. “It creates energy which creates that momentum. The confidence that allows us to go out and play relaxed. More than anything else, it proves to them that they’re a good ballclub and they can play with anybody.”
The Rangers were tied with the Cubs with the most wins in the majors before Thursday’s games.
The Rangers trailed in nine of the 16 wins during the 20-game stretch. That also builds supreme confidence.
The Rangers begin a 17-game stretch Friday to close out the first half of the season. They will finish the first half with 37 games in 38 days.
“How we won some of those games were really most important, the comeback games,” Banister said. “They were all tough and that builds up a bank of grit and resiliency.”
And it creates clubhouse camaraderie that can’t be forced.
“No one in this clubhouse is trying to do more than what they’re capable of doing and no one here is trying to be selfish,” said Cole Hamels, who improved to 8-1 Wednesday. “Everybody is a team player.
“Probably the most positive vibes that I could ever experience are really going on day in, day out and we’re enjoying each other and we’re enjoying the moments that we have out on that field. We like what we’re doing, we like how we’re playing and can’t wait to get back out there on Friday.”
Rangers vs. Red Sox
7:05 p.m. Friday, FSSW