In a series where the Texas Rangers' starters did not pitch particularly well, their bats got the job done. While Martin Perez had a respectable outing and got solid run support, only Colby Lewis truly provided a high-quality start.
Thanks to Lewis' almost-Perfect Game turned 2-hit, 1-run gem, the Rangers won three of four against Oakland. Unfortunately, a couple of tough fly-balls were the difference between Colby reaching baseball immortality and just an outstanding day for the Rangers' righty.
The Rangers still managed to win the series thanks to quality hitting from Elvis Andrus, Ian Desmond and Rougned Odor, among others. This series showed that even without Yu Darvish, who was recently put on the 15-day Disabled List, the Rangers can maintain their winning ways for the short-term.
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With the series win, the Rangers are now 20-6 since being swept in Oakland in mid-May, which makes them the hottest team in baseball entering the dog days of summer. They have done this despite key players struggling at the plate, Rougned Odor’s suspension, and injuries to Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish throughout.
They can attribute all that winning to their 3.56 staff-earned run average (ERA) and .330 team-on-base percentage (OBP) over that time span. The excellent overall team play has kept the Rangers dominant without much contribution from Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo or Yu Darvish (three of their highest paid players).
With less than a month before the All-Star break, the Rangers (who have won 11/13 series since May 1) are in a great position to finish the first half of the season with the best record in the American League and a healthy lead in the AL West. They should be extra excited to see nine of their twenty-three remaining games before the break are against the Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins, two of the worst teams in the MLB.
No matter what happens over the next three and a half weeks, Jeff Banister and crew have put themselves in a great position to be playing important games during the second half of the summer.