The most impressive part of the Rangers' four-game playoff winning streak might not be any of the things that they have done to beat the Rays or Tigers.
It could well be that they are winning these games without getting much of anything from the hitters at key spots in their order. Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young have been ice cold at the plate through the first five games of the playoffs, yet their struggles haven't done anything to slow the team down.
The numbers are fairly shocking. The three players have combined to go 8-for-55 with just one extra-base hit. Each player has scored just once and Hamilton has the only two RBIs that the group has produced so far in the playoffs. Throw in eight strikeouts and you've got production that would seem to seriously impede the team.
But it hasn't had that effect at all. The three players were 0-for-11 in Game One against the Tigers, but Nelson Cruz snapped out of his own slump and the pitching was terrific to help the team avoid being sucked into the black hole. The pitching has been a constant while Adrian Beltre's three homer game and Mike Napoli's big game helped slay the Rays.
For Hamilton and Young, this isn't really a new development. They weren't very good during last year's playoff run, but Andrus was a key part of the attack last October and his inability to get on base definitely impacts the team's ability to score runs. That's why a team that scored 5.3 runs per game in the regular season has scored less than four runs a game in the playoffs.
As long as that continues, the Rangers are vulnerable. An iffy start or a downturn for Napoli will make it very hard to win games as long as pitchers can breeze through a third of the Rangers lineup.
All of that is the bad news. The good news is, of course, that the team has won four straight games and has an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the ALCS on Monday afternoon. If just one of these players gets going at the plate, there will be a major difference in the offense. If two of them start hitting, the Rangers are going to be very difficult as long as their pitching staff doesn't implode.
The longer the Rangers play, the better the chances that these players will get going. When and if that happens, the chances of the Rangers celebrating with more champagne will get even better.