Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers proof that things can change quickly in baseball
(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Bruce Bochy was telling anyone who would listen the past few weeks that the Rangers had plenty of time to get themselves back into the playoff picture, not that they were ever very far out of it.
Even as the losses mounted and the number of remaining games got smaller, they still had time.
Bochy doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to say he told you so.
The Rangers rattled off their fourth straight win Tuesday night, 6-3, and in two nights have gone from out of the playoffs to the second wild-card team. They are also only a game behind the Astros in the American League West.
Bochy also isn’t beating his chest because he knows the Rangers’ margin in only a half-game and that they could be right back on the outside looking in as soon as tonight. But it’s important to remember that a lot can happen over three weeks, good and bad.
Look at what’s happened to the Rangers. At this time last week, a lot of fans were punting on the season.
The bats have come to life, with hits from just about everyone in the lineup. The pitching staff has shown improvement, even amid the health concerns of Max Scherzer. Josh Jung (thumb) could be back this weekend, and the thought is Adolis Garcia (knee) will return before the season ends.
Things are trending upward, even if Scherzer misses a start, or two, or can’t pitch again this season. None of the options to replace Scherzer is as good as he is, but Martin Perez, Andrew Heaney and Cody Bradford have done good things at some point this season — and even in the past few days.
Things change quickly in baseball. You never know as long as there’s still time.
1,000 and counting
Shortstop Corey Seager continued his march toward the AL batting title with a three-hit game. It just so happened that the first was No. 1,000 of his career.
Two of the hits were doubles, which gives him a league-best 39. He missed 40 games during his two stints on the injured list.
There isn’t a better hitter in the league right now than Seager.
“He’s one of the best I’ve had,” said Bochy, who managed Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds earlier in his career. “That’s how good he is.”
Teams are starting to realize that the best option with Seager late in games or in scoring situations is to walk him intentionally.
Toronto didn’t do that in the seventh, choosing to bring in a left-handed reliever to face the lefty-hitting Seager, and he doubled in a run. The Blue Jays did walk him in the ninth, and Travis Jankowski followed with an RBI single.
The walk was the right move, and there could be a lot more of them coming as the playoff race goes down to the wire.
He’s the best hitter in the AL.
The Rangers needed a right-hander to get them out of the seventh inning, when Toronto scored twice to cut into a 5-0 deficit. They turned to Chris Stratton, and then kept him in for the eighth inning.
Stratton has been as reliable as any other Rangers reliever, but he had been deployed in the middle innings while others would struggle in the seventh and eighth innings. The ninth, too, but Stratton doesn’t need to be the closer.
The Rangers should keep him in this key spot until he shows he shouldn’t be there. Getting leads or staying close hasn’t been their primary issue during the past three weeks. Keeping the leads has been.
Any reliever who can help fix that needs to be pitching late. Right now, that’s Stratton.
The A’s vs. the Astros the past two nights. Enjoy.
When you lied on your CV about having previous sheepdog experience. pic.twitter.com/3MaBEcFU5K
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