Rangers' Long, Improbable Journey Has Them in 1st Place, for Now

If you would’ve told me back in March that this season the Rangers would get no starts from Yu Darvish, one win from Matt Harrison, six saves from Neftali Feliz and no at-bats from Jurickson Profar, I would’ve said they have zero chance.

But in this wild, wonderful season of surprise last night they climbed a seemingly improbable mountain into first place in the AL West.

You want unlikely heroes? The Rangers have staged a late-season rally to edge past the Astros with Shawn Tolleson recording 32 saves, Keone Kela winning seven games out of the bullpen and Drew Stubbs scoring the season’s most exciting, important run.

In other words, Spring Training is overrated. September production is the name of the game.

Stubbs, pinch-running for Prince Fielder, scored on Mitch Moreland’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th Tuesday night, sending the Rangers to a 6-5 win over Houston and into sole possession of first place in the division for the first time all season.

Never ever quit? The Rangers were eight games behind the Astros on Aug. 1, but have gone 27-14 since. They are the fifth team since 1969 to take a division lead this late in the season.

“They have fought, scratched, clawed all ways imaginable to get to this point,” manager Jeff Banister said after the second consecutive late-inning win over the Astros in as many nights. “We're not done yet. Still got a long ways to go.”

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Truth. The Rangers have peaked. But to stay on top the task gets more difficult. Immediately.

In order to hold onto first for more than 24 hours, tonight they have to beat AL Cy Young favorite Dallas Keuchel.

Finally at the summit, however, the Rangers can at least take the morning to ponder a couple things:

  • They're lucky to be in the AL West, because their 77 wins would have them no closer than five games out in any other division.
  • Their magic number to clinch the division is 18.

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.

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