Simple: It’s up to Cole Hamels to stop the losing streak, halt the bleeding and pause the panic.
Because the Rangers are suddenly making crossing the finish line a lot tougher than it should be.
I still think Texas wins the AL West, but I wasn’t counting on a loss to the lowly Detroit Tigers last night in which 17-game winner Colby Lewis walked in one run and allowed a three-run homer to a light-hitting Tyler Collins who had only three dingers all season.
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Add the loss with more wins by the Astros and Angels and, gulp, Tuesday night feels extra important.
The Rangers have coughed up 20 runs in losing three in-a-row for the first time since early August. Still with a 1.5-game lead on Houston (which has won three straight) and Anaheim (six in-a-row), they’re in control. But a loss Tuesday might make us dust off the old 2012 collapse stories, when the Rangers lost the West despite leading by five games with nine to play.
Their lead in 2015 was 4.5 games with nine to play.
This is why Hamels came to Arlington. When trouble arises, he’s the comfort of having the ace in the hole.
And I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t shut down the Tigers and lead the Rangers to an order-restoring victory. After a slow start in Texas in which he allowed nine runs in first two starts, Hamels has found his groove and gone 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA. He’s beginning to look like the dominant fall pitcher the Rangers envisioned, similar to the one that won World Series MVP and pitched the Phillies to the championship in 2008.
The Rangers are on the verge of becoming only the fifth team in 40 years to win a division after trailing by eight games in August. It’s up to Hamels to make sure they’re known for that epic comeback, not another historic collapse.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.