Monday newsletter time: Rangers bring out brooms for some AL West housecleaning
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
The hottest team in baseball the past month continues to be the Texas Rangers, who have won five straight series and on Sunday completed a three-game sweep of the Mariners.
The sweep is nice after a series of close calls. It’s really nice because it came at the expense of a divisional foe.
Not only are the Rangers winning more than they ever have this early in a season, and winning on the road unlike the past six seasons, they are taking care of business in the American League West.
They have won all six series against West teams this season to the tune of a 14-5 record. They lead the Astros by 3 1/2 games, the Angels by 8 1/2 and the Mariners by 9 1/2.
What about the A’s? They’re a stunning 27 1/2 games back.
Winning series is part of the formula for reaching the postseason. Winning series in the division can get a team over the top.
The Rangers whippped the Mariners again Sunday, this time 12-3. Jonah Heim had five RBIs, and he and Corey Seager homered as the offense scored in double-digits for the 16th time this season, which moved them into a tie with the 1936 Yankees for the most in MLB’s modern era through 58 games.
This Rangers team is the fastest in franchise history to reach 18 games above .500, and the 38-20 record is the best in franchise history after 58 games.
The schedule takes the Rangers out of division play for 19 of the remaining 24 games this month. The five they have are all at home against the Angels (four) on June 12-15 and the Astros on June 30 to start a four-game series.
More success in the division will help get the Rangers to the postseason.
Nathan Eovaldi didn’t need to carry the Rangers on Sunday as he did a few times last month en route to being selected as the AL Pitcher of the Month.
The score was 12-0 after six innings, and manager Bruce Bochy decided it was time to save some Eovaldi bullets for later in the season.
He allowed one hit and struck out seven to lower his ERA to 2.24. Over his past seven starts, his ERA is 0.68 and he is 6-0.
At 8-2 overall, he is cruising toward a spot on the AL All-Star team. Jon Gray, who tossed seven scoreless innings Friday, also has a case at 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA. He is 5-0 with a 0.79 ERA in his past five starts.
Heim continues to polish up his All-Star resume, though he will have to deal with Salvaldor Perez and Adley Rutschman. Marcus Semien is a shoo-in for the team at second base. He has a 23-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors this season.
Josh Jung and Adolis Garcia are good bets for the July 11 All-Star Game.
And then there’s Seager, who missed more than a month with a hamstring injury but has four homers and 20 RBIs in 14 games since coming off the injured list. His overall numbers won’t match up with other AL shortstops, but what he’s done when healthy is All-Star-esque.
Sandy Leon survived another roster move Saturday, when the Rangers reinstated Ezequiel Duran from the injured list and placed utility player Brad Miller on the IL with strained right oblique.
Leon is one of three catchers on the roster, along with Heim and Mitch Garver. Having three catchers allowed Bochy the peace of mind to put Heim and Garver in the lineup together without the fear of losing the designated hitter.
The Rangers will have more roster moves to make this month, two of which will require 40-man spots to be opened as Glenn Otto and Spencer Howard come off the 60-day injured list. Relievers Danny Duffy and Kyle Funkhouser are rehabbing with Double A Frisco and would be candidates for the bullpen once healthy.
They also would need 40-man spots.
Leon and Miller would be candidates to lose their 40-man spots.
The Rangers have already lost Ricky Vanasco because of the 40-man crunch. It’s going to get messier as the injured players get healthy.
It’s fun going to the ballpark or flipping on the TV every game expecting the Rangers to win. It’s been the complete opposite the past two seasons and most of the 2020 campaign. It’s also fun writing and talking about winning, though it’s a little unusual. It’s fun reading about a winning ballclub, too, and it’s time to become a paid subscriber to Rangers Today. If you want to know what you’ll be getting, here’s our latest content in case you missed it.
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It’s Monday. Time to get the motor revving. Enjoy.
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Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org