On the rails.
Four more strikeouts in four official at-bats for Josh Hamilton last night. Since June 2, he’s hitting .188/.278/.388, an 90-plate-appearance stretch that includes 32 strikeouts (I won’t drill it down to what’s happened over the last six games, as I try to keep this stuff PG-13 at worst).
Compare the first 90 plate appearances that Albert Pujols had in his historically bad start this year – .226/.278/.310 with 12 strikeouts.
Michael Young’s numbers are way down across the board, as are Mike Napoli’s.
Like Young, Ian Kinsler is putting up a career-low OPS, and Kinsler has already matched his 2011 error output and his career high in failed stolen base attempts.
Nelson Cruz is having his least productive season since becoming a full-time player, and he’s regressed defensively.
Mitch Moreland, like Elvis Andrus and David Murphy and Craig Gentry, has taken a significant step forward offensively, but a hamstring strain planted him on the disabled list, where he hangs out with Rangers pitchers Derek Holland and Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz and Koji Uehara, all of whom were injured in the last five weeks.
A stretch during which the Angels have gone 24-8.
Texas is not a better team without Moreland and Holland and Lewis and Ogando and Feliz and Uehara – the kind of shrewd observation that you’re welcome to Favorite – but get this:
In the 35 games Feliz has missed, the Rangers (who have a .618 win percentage for the season) are playing .600 baseball.
In Holland’s 19 games on the disabled list: .684.
Ogando’s 14: .786.
Uehara’s 11: .818.
Moreland’s six (and, to round things out, Lewis’s three): .667.
A battered, decimated Rangers club, with three-fifths of its rotation shelved and several of its key hitters scuffling and the defense playing beneath its capability and five rookies on the current pitching staff, has won six straight series, matching the season-opening high.
Has won 10 of 12, 13 of 16, and 14 of 18.
Has three wins out of four starts from eighth and ninth starters, which is three wins more than Cliff Lee has in his 12 starts.
Has its best-ever record after 76 games.
Has the most wins in baseball.
And has allowed Los Angeles to creep only 3.5 games closer over that 24-8 run.
Over the next five weeks the Rangers will get a lot healthier (with some potentially positive residual effects of all the down time for its sidelined pitchers), and they’ll also get stronger another way, when Jon Daniels pulls the trigger on a key trade or two.
There’s a lot to be bitter about, if that’s your thing. Pitching injuries and offensive regressions and botched rundowns and bat hurls can be irritating, but what club owners and general managers and the ticket-buying fan base pay for are wins, and if a night on which a newly acquired veteran starter gives up a career-high number of hits and the defense provides a few hi-def moments of ugly and certain cogs in the offense continue blazing a trail of abject hacktasticness still ends up with daps in the middle of the infield, you take that and look forward to the next game, the next opponent, the next opportunity to keep this thing on the rails, firing well on the cylinders that are still in service, every day drawing closer to the time when impact roster reinforcements should arrive, in more ways than one.