With just over a month left in the regular season, it’s a big week for baseball in Arlington.
The Rangers hold a comfortable eight-and-a-half game lead in the A.L. West. In fact, you could say they are cruising towards the playoffs. But the truth is things can change quickly, and if you’re not careful, get real interesting. So while everything seems comfy at the moment, the Rangers still have business to take care of.
Texas begins a 25-game stretch against division opponents with Seattle starting Monday at The Globe (weather permitting). After that, in-state rival Houston comes to town for a weekend series. The Rangers have a chance to practically wrap up the division and guarantee a spot in the postseason, or the Mariners and Astros can still make it a race. Both teams are also in the mix for the A.L. Wild Card spot.
“All of them are a big series” said first baseman Mitch Moreland. “It’s one of those things where we try to simplify the best we can. Everyone in here has helped us get to where we are right now.”
After winning two-of-three against the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, the Rangers now have the best record in the A.L. at 77-54, second best in MLB behind the Chicago Cubs. Texas has held the top spot in the A.L. West for 106 days. They are 42-21 at the friendly confines of The Globe, second best home record in MLB (Cubs are 45-19). That can go a long way as the Rangers and Indians fight for home field advantage in the playoffs, if Texas keeps Seattle and Houston in check. The Rangers are also 8-4 against the Mariners this season, including a 4-2 record in Arlington.
Yu Darvish takes the hill in the series opener Monday night. Darvish, coming back from Tommy John surgery, is starting to look like the Darvish of old at 4-3 with a 2.91 ERA, all four of those wins at the Globe. The Mariners counter with Hisashi Iwakuma, who’s 14-9 with a 3.81 ERA this season.
* Fun fact: both faced each other six times while playing in Nippon Professional Baseball, with Darvish winning three of the five contests.
The marathon has now turned into a sprint towards the finish line, with the Rangers well in front.