It may be mid-June, before the July 31 trade deadline and with still more than three months to go in the MLB regular season, but Monday night's 8-7 win over the Oakland A's could be a season-changer for the Texas Rangers, a tide-turner, a momentum-swinger, you name the cliche, and that's it.
The Rangers were in the midst of a six-game losing skid against teams they were supposed to beat in an otherwise brutal June schedule, with all of those losses coming at home, making them particularly hard to swallow. They were in the midst of an offensive funk not seen in these parts in ages, and they're still the only team in MLB that hasn't seen a starting pitcher record a win for the entire month of June.
But a win's a win, and even though starting pitcher Nick Tepesch once again struggled, giving up six runs to Oakland in one inning that saw a 3-0 Texas lead and good feelings fly simultaneously out the window in a flash and turn to a 6-3 deficit against the first-place team in the division in the opener of a four-game set, the Rangers got one, and it was a big one.
A night after manager Ron Washington called a closed-door team meeting after Sunday's loss to Toronto completed a four-game sweep, at home, to a last-place Blue Jays team, the Rangers' offense came alive in a big way behind Nelson Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski, who combined for seven RBIs.
After a quick 3-0 lead evaporated into a 6-3 deficit, it brought on the "here we go again" feeling and it seemed like the A's were not only about to take a four-game lead over Texas in the AL West standings but also deliver a proverbial "kill-shot" to the Rangers' confidence and psyche.
But they clawed back behind the aforementioned Cruz and Pierzynski and behind a stellar effort from the winning pieces of the Rangers' bullpen that hadn't seen meaningful action in quite some time as Neal Cotts, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers put up over four perfect innings and Joe Nathan fought through a rocky start to the ninth to pick up a save.
And with that, the A's lead was down to two games, the offensive slump was busted and the energy and confidence was finally restored in a normally jovial clubhouse. And with that, the Rangers' season has been saved, at least for the time being.