Gil LeBreton

Rangers don’t look like a team that’s going to be caught

The spunky little second baseman has 29 home runs.

The No. 9 hitter is batting .295.

And in just one month, the two new guys in the lineup have hit 12 home runs and driven in 34 runs.

The Houston Astros held on for a 7-6 win in the final game of the series, but I have a hunch the Texas Rangers napped well during their long flight to Seattle on Sunday night.

An 8-2 homestand will do that for a team. A 9 1/2 game lead in the division shouldn’t keep anyone awake, either.

The Rangers have put their stamp on the American League West race over the past two weeks. They faced their then-closest pursuers, the Mariners, as well as the two hottest teams in the league, the Indians and Astros, and convincingly throttled all three.

Anything can happen, of course. The finish of the 2012 season burned a permanent imprint in the minds of Rangers fans. A tired Texas team blew a five-game lead in the final nine games.

An inviting road awaits the Rangers this time — four games in Seattle, followed by three in both Anaheim and Houston.

But after that, the regular season is scheduled to conclude with 15 games, 12 of which will be at home and none of which will be against a team currently with a winning record.

In other words, if something untoward is destined to happen to the 2016 Rangers, the contenders had better do it over these next 10 days.

I don’t see it, though.

When a team’s lineup is that deep, top to bottom, the slump insurance appears to already be built in.

The Rangers are loaded. In eight of their last 10 games, the offense has scored at least seven runs. Second baseman Rougned Odor, the team’s pocket-sized nemesis, slugged his 29th home run in Sunday’s losing cause. Veteran Carlos Beltran, the consummate professional hitter, has a .296 average and 81 runs batted in. Jonathan Lucroy, Ian Desmond, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are all batting .289 or above.

So deep, so balanced has the lineup become, Andrus and his .295 average have had to bat ninth on the lineup card.

“Anywhere the manager puts me, I’ll be ready to play,” shortstop Andrus said. “I just want to do something positive every single day to help the team win.

“We have a really balanced lineup right now, and that’s what we’re trying to do, from the first guy to the last. Everybody is having really good at-bats, going up there with a plan.”

Andrus is right. Once chided for their impatience at the plate, the Rangers have become an increasingly grinding challenge for opposing pitchers. A perfect example came Sunday, when Beltre worked Astros starter Collin McHugh for an eight-pitch walk, and Odor followed with his home run.

“It’s a tough lineup, no doubt,” said Beltran, who was traded from the Yankees on Aug. 1. “From what I’ve heard from opposing pitchers that have faced us, they felt they don’t have a break. They get somebody out, and the next guy up can still do damage.”

The additions of Beltran, Lucroy and Carlos Gomez have been virtually seamless. All have contributed. All have received the winning Gatorade baths.

Add up the 10-game homestand, manager Jeff Banister said, and, “That was, in my opinion, what we needed to do. The offense has proven it has the ability to put runs on the board.

“They’ve found how they fit together inside the lineup. We’re getting top-to-bottom production.”

Even after dropping the series finale Sunday, as the Rangers packed for the flight to Seattle, there was a feeling that if somebody is going to catch the current AL leaders, they had better do it soon.

“These guys are in a good place right now,” Banister assessed. “They’re very confident. They’re going to continue to play hard.”

Nap time awaited.

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