When Cole Hamels was brought on board via trade two months ago, it was done with the thought he'd be the club's ace for the rest of the year, but more with the thought he'd be a co-ace with Yu Darvish for years to come upon Darvish's return from Tommy John surgery in 2016.
All the sudden, the Rangers are in the lead in the AL West with 10 days to play, and a big reason for it has been the performance of Hamels.
The Rangers have won seven straight Hamels starts, and if he can make it eight on Thursday afternoon in Oakland to complete a series sweep, it will put the Rangers in a really nice position as they head to Houston for the biggest series of the year this weekend.
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A win on Thursday, with the Astros being off after two straight losses to put their deficit at a season-high 3 games, would give the Rangers a 3 1/2-game lead heading to Houston to begin their three-game series on Friday. That would guarantee the Rangers leaving Houston on Sunday with sole possession of first place in the West with a week to play.
In other words, there is no one the Rangers would rather have on the mound on Thursday.