Elvis and Mitch and Derek were there in 2007, and so was a 16-year-old named Martin.
So were Danny Clark and Josue Perez and Keith Comstock and Napoleon Pichardo, and I’m sure Mike Daly and Kip Fagg were in and out for more than the four days I spent in Surprise for Fall Instructs that October.
I went to Surprise that year because I wanted to check out all the new minor league talent the Rangers had added that summer through trades (Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Engel Beltre, Max Ramirez) and the draft (Moreland, Holland, Tommy Hunter, Neil Ramirez, Julio Borbon, Blake Beavan, Michael Main) and internationally (Perez, Tomas Telis, Leury Garcia).
I went in October because, at that time in Rangers history, baseball was predictably finished for the year.
I’ve been back to Instructs every fall since, but starting in 2010 I’ve made it a point to get out there in late September, to make sure I’d be back home in time for 162+.
If I didn’t write about watching the last three games of the 2012 season on a TV in Surprise with a bunch of Rangers instructors and scouts, it’s because it was too painful to talk about. As emotionally invested as I was in those brutal three games in Oakland, it obviously went way beyond that for the men who grind it out on the back fields and on the road for more hours and more days each year than most people probably think, because every mass infield on a 109-degree afternoon in Arizona and every 6:45 am turn in the cages and every clubhouse classroom session is done, ultimately, so that the big league team has its best chance, every year, to play ball when most other teams have gone home for the year.
Watching the Texas Rangers push for playoff baseball has to mean something extra to those guys that most of us can’t fully wrap our heads around.
Three mornings ago a team of Rangers prospects faced a team of Royals prospects on Field 1, and when Chris Garia cut a runner down at the plate from center field I won’t swear I wasn’t shaken from a daydream that those same two organizations could find themselves teeing it up on a little bigger stage in a couple weeks.
That night a bunch of us sat around that same TV as in 2012 — this time including a former nine-year big league infielder-outfielder, a former outfielder who got as close to a big league call as you can get, a onetime infielder on two NCAA champions, and an ex-college pitcher and college coach — calling pitches and calling pitching changes, sweating a fairly shaky Yovani Gallardo start but treated to Choo and Fielder and 4.1 lockdown frames out of the bullpen.
Every player who suited up in blue for Texas 6, Houston 2 on Friday probably had a turn or two at Instructs at the start of his own career, if not in Surprise then somewhere else, and many who fit in that category (Fielder, Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, Mike Napoli, Max Venable) are here in part because of someone else the Rangers developed on the back fields when the scoreboards were off, the concession stands were shut down, and the press wasn’t around.
The next morning — like a dozen mornings before it and twice as many yet to come — more than 70 ballplayers and dozens of instructors focused on the little things and the bigger ones, putting in tons of hours in unnatural heat to get better at baseball.
And to help ensure that the Texas Rangers are a franchise that continues to plays games in late September that mean everything.
Pitchers’ target competitions. Fungoes to simulate short-hop throws on steal attempts. Four-corners catcher drills. Hockey pucks and footballs. Rehabbing pitchers, putting in their own grind. Options-decisions-consequences, and 18 inches: head to heart.
A thousand swings and a thousand throws.
That final week in 2012, the thought that Jurickson Profar would be in Surprise as the final week in 2015 unfolded wouldn’t have made any sense, but there he was, swinging the bat from both sides without limitation, even if he’s not throwing at 100 percent yet.
Profar’s still just 22. But that’s four and a half years older than Chad Smith, a left-left outfielder (fifth round in June) who along with fellow outfielder Eric Jenkins (second round in June) probably opened my eyes as much as anyone did this weekend.
Another 17-year-old, righthander Tyler Phillips (16th round in June), was on a short list of the guys I wanted to see, but he was shockingly summoned to Houston (along with righthander Cole Wiper) to throw early batting practice to Josh Hamilton, Joey Gallo, and a few others.
They’re presumably back in Surprise now, and every minute Phillips spends around Clark, and every rep Smith puts in with Perez, and every chance any player on the back fields in Arizona gets to be around Kenny Holmberg and Corey Ragsdale and Roy Silver, there’s a chance to make themselves better, and to make the Texas Rangers better.
They’re back in Surprise, and I’m back home, as are the Rangers, about to host Detroit for three and the Angels for four, while Houston takes its terrible road record to Seattle and Arizona for three each and the surging Angels host Oakland for three before coming to Texas to round out their own effort to extend the season.
The last two days in Houston have made this next week more critical for the Rangers than it might have been otherwise, and that’s OK. Texas won a healthy four of six on the road trip to Oakland and Houston, and with a 2.5-game lead in the division and a Magic Number of 5 to secure a playoff position — and with Cole Hamels and Colby Lewis set to start four of these remaining seven games — if the Rangers somehow don’t manage to reach 162+, if the position they’re now in isn’t enough to move on, then 2015 has been a blast and bring on 2016.
But it will be enough.
There will be late nights four of these next five, as Rangers games will give way to West Coast Astros and/or Angels games that will bear watching.
Meanwhile, there will be very, very early days in Surprise, this week and a couple more, for players who have never so much as met Adrian Beltre or Rougned Odor or Colby Lewis and maybe never will.
But you can bet there’s a plan in place for 100 players and coaches in Surprise to be around a TV next week when the Rangers are playing post-season baseball, as a reward and as an incentive, and knowing how the guys in charge down there are wired, even as they’re living and dying with every Rangers playoff pitch — on a level most of us can probably only try to imagine — there will be, here and there, an added moment of instruction that will stick with some kid destined to help this franchise continue, for years down the road, to win.
Some of you have asked why I haven’t started up with the Magic Number countdown.
I suppose it’s because of the way this season has gone. It’s been an incredible six-month battle, starting with the news that Yu Darvish would be lost for the season and leading to a second straight year in which the Rangers have lost — by far — the most games to the disabled list of all 30 teams, highlighted by four months missed by the number two starter and three-plus by the number three starter, perhaps not surprisingly feeding the worst April in club history, plus a miserable gut-kick first half on both offense and defense by the $130 million right fielder and the $120 million shortstop, a closer who quickly lost his job and his roster spot in May, leading to a stretch during which he and the sophomore second baseman were sharing a Round Rock Express uniform because they weren’t getting the job done at the higher level.
The fact that Texas sits today where it is, a week and a half from 162+, makes it tough for me — at least this year — to be thinking about countdowns. This year has been just an awesome sports climb, and my eye is still on Houston, where the Rangers and Astros will tee it up for three after a Thursday afternoon on which Texas will spend one final day in Oakland and the Astros will play golf.
The Astros will never admit it, and they shouldn’t, but I bet there are folks in that uniform worried about how soon those next tee times might be.
There’s no way Houston expected before the season to be in a pennant race once the calendar turned to fall. You don’t schedule a golf tournament on a September 24 off-day if you dreamed every pitch would still matter.
But there’s also no way, in April or mid-May or late July, that the Rangers could have expected Friday and Saturday and Sunday to have this much riding on it, either.
Last year, on this date, I was writing about a search for a new manager and a new Class A affiliate.
This is more fun.
Cole Hamels has a chance to bump the Rangers’ lead over Houston to 3.5 games this afternoon, as Texas looks to sweep the A’s, and now it occurs to me that I haven’t even mentioned last night’s tremendous win.
So, hey, a list:
10: Texas runs last night, on the strength of three big innings
9: Rangers with base hits in the 10-3 win
8: The resulting Magic Number, I’m told
7: The staggering number of games Houston has lost to Texas in the standings in September alone (plummeting from a four-game lead to a three-game deficit)
6: Colby Lewis’s workmanlike warrior-beast innings last night (he went 3-0, 1.64 in five starts against Oakland this year, holding the A’s to a .153/.215/.225 slash line), giving him 196.0 frames for the year (as Eric Nadel pointed out on the radio broadcast, when Lewis logs 200 innings, Texas goes to the World Series)
4: The inning
3: The lead in the West, which is really the only number I care about now
2: The Rangers’ run differential for the season, finally a positive number; compare the Astros’ +93, which I suppose they can celebrate if they want, but going 9-29 in one-run games (including a shocking 0-8 in September) will throw the significance of those run-diff totals off
1: It’s Cole Hamels Day
Yeah, I know, I left “5” out. I guess I could have thrown in the measly number of times Rangers hitters went down on strikes last night, or the number of times the club came up with runners in scoring position (getting base hits in four of them), or a reminder of how many years Texas controls Sam Dyson after this one.
The truth is I skipped “5” because, at least at this moment in baseball time, I’m just not very good at countdowns.
Los Angeles 4, Houston 3 and Texas 8, Oakland 6 were two excruciatingly difficult games to watch and endure, relentlessly tense and intense.
The mathematically satisfying result of those two final scores: a two-game Rangers lead in the West.
So tired, and unremittingly uneasy, but I was glued.
Both games were the sports embodiment of “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” I phrase we’ll hear a lot today as Yogi Berra is mourned.
Berra is best known, at least by the last couple generations, as one of the great American characters, but he was unquestionably one of the Great Game’s players, a three-time MVP and 10-time World Series champion.
He was a catcher who occasionally played in the outfield, but after the most momentary of consideration I think that’s a topic we’ll avoid further discussion on, in present context (perhaps leaning on a little Berra advice in doing so: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”).
Rest in peace, Yogi.
One final episode of late night West Coast Baseball tonight, but this time Astros-Angels (1:10 start) will be well over by time the Rangers and A’s get going. Which could make watching tonight’s game better. Or worse.
The range of outcomes going into this weekend’s Rangers-Astros series in Houston, thanks to last night’s nerve-racking and awesome results, is now a half-game Rangers lead in the division at worst, a 3.5-game Texas edge at best.
The Rangers have decided not to start Cole Hamels in that series, instead giving him tomorrow’s finale in Oakland on regular rest so that he’d be available for Game 162 if needed, but the fact is the Astros series will get rolling with Texas atop the division, regardless.
Colby Lewis and Hamels have a chance in Oakland, late tonight and then tomorrow afternoon, to push the lead closer to the high end. While Hamels has been pushed up to Thursday’s start, the A’s have decided to go with righthander Chris Bassitt rather than Sonny Gray. That’s good. I think.
First things first. Lewis and Felix Doubront tonight.
We’ll watch tired, and it will be super-tense.
And if all goes well, both in Houston and in Oakland, maybe we’ll be treated to a little deja vu all over again, cut generously into six slices rather than four.
Because we’re hungry.
There will be disappointing and maybe ominous nights, and Monday was one of those, unless your prevailing desire is to see the sorry Angels keep digging toward six feet.
The lead in the West is now one game. The cushion for the fallback right to travel (most likely to New York) for a one-or-done Wild Card matchup is four games.
But the lead in the West: One.
And if they’d come away with anything other than that four-game sweep over Houston last week, the Rangers would be second in the division right now.
A one-game lead.
It’s one game narrower than what the Rangers took with them to Oakland on Monday, October 1, 2012, with three games left on the schedule.
Martin Perez got the ball in the opener of that series, and lost.
Texas faced ordinary lefthander Travis Blackley in the second game, and lost.
In the third game, Ryan Dempster couldn’t hold a 5-1 lead and Josh Hamilton couldn’t hold a lazy fly ball and Texas couldn’t hold onto its division lead, and what had been a five-game edge in the West with nine to go ended up with Texas out of first place after Game 162 for the first time since Game 3.
It’s a similar story line in some ways to Houston’s in 2015, but the Astros have more time to right their ship, and Texas finds itself heading back to Oakland, three years later, with Perez once again entrusted with series opener duties.
He’ll face lefthander Sean Nolin, whose only Major League win in four tries came last week. Against the Rangers.
This isn’t a Mavs-Heat-level redemption opportunity, but Texas needs to go to Oakland and exorcise that 2012 demon (or at least tase it) while Houston fattens up at home on the super-sorry Angels.
Regardless of how this story plays out, it’s been an extraordinary baseball season. It’s crazy-remarkable that the Rangers have a lead to protect with less than two weeks to go, and that they’ve made it so these next three in Oakland as huge as they are. 2015 has been a blast.
When the Rangers arrive in Houston for the weekend, they could have as much as a 3.5-game lead.
Or a 1.5-game deficit.
Or some x.5 variable in between.
Dallas Keuchel predictably improved to 14-0 at home last night, and his next start will come in Sunday’s series and (scheduled) season finale between the Astros and Rangers. In Houston.
He’s the first pitcher in big league history to go 14-0 at home. I’m not sure how many have gone 14-1.
But before the weekend, there are three huge games for Texas in Oakland, and two more Angels games for the Astros to host.
Since that brutal three-game spit-up to finish the 2012 schedule, Texas has actually been pretty good (15-10) in O.co Coliseum.
West Coast baseball for the final time this year. Two late nights and a mid-afternoon contest, just like October 1, 2, and 3, 2012.
I’ll be exhausted. Lose a late one, and I’ll go to bed grumpy and won’t sleep well. Win a late one, and I won’t be able to fall asleep through the adrenaline, and won’t sleep well.
I’ll be exhausted, and that’s exponentially better than not having anything meaningful to watch other than next June’s draft order.
When I think of O.co, I think of #poopdugouts and the disastrous three days of the 2012 season that preceded Joe Saunders 5, Texas 1 and a shockingly immediate off-season.
Time to redefine. One at a time. Let’s go, Martin.
No more off-days.
Here comes the sprint.
Play hurt, watch tired, let’s go.
Today’s the final day off for Texas within the scheduled 162.
The Mariners are off as well, which could enable them to give their starters an extra day of rest. If they do that, Felix Hernandez — who sits at 18 wins and has never won 20 — will face the Angels on Saturday and then Oakland on Friday the 1st. He’d miss the Astros, whom Seattle hosts for three starting a week from tonight, by one day.
Considering that Hernandez left his start against the Rangers yesterday with elbow stiffness, there would seem to be added incentive for the Mariners give King Felix that extra day between starts, assuming they let him pitch at all. They control him through 2020.
Maybe it’s a stroke of luck for Texas that Hernandez probably won’t face Houston again, considering the Astros chased him with one out in the first inning of his lone start against them this season, scoring eight runs (single-walk-double-E1-walk-strikeout-homer-single-homer) in what would be a 10-0 hammering.
The thing about it that jumped out at me is Hernandez has faced Texas five times in 2015, logging a win each time (5-0, 1.83, Rangers slash line of .168/.267/.269). It’s mathematically only a little unexpected for a starter to face a division opponent five times out of a scheduled 19 match-ups. It’s crazy for him to face a division opponent just once in that many games.
Again, it might be a good thing that the Astros didn’t draw Hernandez another two or three times this year, considering how they jumped all over him on June 12, but I’d bet they’d be less than 10-6 against Seattle this season if Hernandez did get another shot or two or more at them.
Perhaps more to the point, if the Rangers saw Hernandez three or four times in 2015, rather than five times in the clubs’ six series, maybe their unsightly 7-12 record against the Mariners wouldn’t be quite so unsightly.
Anyway, here we go. Travel day today, then three in Oakland and three in Houston, followed by the final seven at home, three with Detroit and four with Los Angeles.
For the Astros: Angels and Rangers for three each at home, and then on the road for three in Seattle and three in Arizona.
A game and a half separate Texas and Houston.
After tonight that margin will be one game, or two.
Dallas Keuchel against Jered Weaver, in Minute Maid Park, where Keuchel never loses (13-0, 1.49 this year).
It’s the Rangers’ final day off.
Unless you want to count two weeks from today, when the hope is the club is making preparations for that Thursday’s Game One in Toronto or Kansas City, or possibly New York.
Four in a row at the expense of the team you were chasing, relegating them to chaser.
Twelve of 16 overall against those Astros (including seven straight), which in a way defines the current AL West standings.
Nineteen wins in the last 23 home games, an emphatic demonstration of #CastleDoctrine baseball.
Ten remaining at home for the Rangers, six away for the American’s League best road team. For the Astros: Nine home, six away for the AL’s worst road bunch.
(Evan Drellich [Houston Chronicle]: “Psychologically, this trip hurts on two levels: the road has really become a terror for [the] Astros, beyond what it was, and so have the Rangers.”)
Nine wins in 10 career decisions against Houston for Colby Lewis, Warrior-Beast.
A .500/.579/1.063 series for Prince (maybe, just maybe . . . definitely) Fielder.
Attendance in the 20k’s for the first two Rangers-Astros games, then 30k’s for the last two, and here comes the weekend.
Texas and Houston, at Minute Maid, three times, starting a week from tonight.
But those are all just numbers. What we’re experiencing right now isn’t mathematical as much as it is magical, a near-nightly expression of why we invest ourselves like we do.
This isn’t about numbers right now. It’s about competing and executing and chasing something relentlessly and getting the job done, with new guys stepping up night to night.
And this isn’t over. There will be disappointing and maybe ominous nights over the next two and a half weeks. But Texas has resoundingly positioned itself so that the setbacks may not be as damaging and, on the heels of the most spectacular series this club has had in a really long time, so that it will take more of those setbacks now to wreck this thing than anyone could have ever imagined in mid-March, or mid-May, or mid-July.
The numbers can be predictive, and they can be instructive, but the bottom line is in stacking up the W’s, no matter how it is that you get the job done.
The numbers, ultimately, wash out.
-5.5, -3.5, -1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
-5.5, -3.5, -1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
-5.5, -3.5, -1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
-5.5, -3.5, -1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
-5.5, -3.5, -1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
I like live music, and I like my wife, and so when she asked me a couple months ago if we could go see Lenny Kravitz in mid-September to celebrate her birthday . . . sure, absolutely.
Because there’s a small chance she’s reading this, I will say that my answer would have been the same no matter how the Rangers season was going on July 2 (hey, I agreed to get married on a date that from time to time comes back around on Opening Day) — but the fact is that Texas was six games out in the division and sixth in the chase for the league’s two Wild Card spots on that date, so even if it had occurred to me to factor in the possibility that Houston in Arlington on September 16 might mean something (and I’m not saying it did, Ging . . . really I’m not . . . no, really), and even though I’ve never been a big Lenny fan, the calendar looked completely clear on that Wednesday night a couple months down the road, and I was all in.
We bought the tickets. The Rangers then lost 10 of 13. And were nine games out. And ninth in the Wild Card chase.
Fast forward to last night.
I did manage to keep tastefully close tabs on Texas 14, Houston 3 as it unfolded on the dimmed screen of my phone, and I might have even delivered a tweet or two as Lenny delivered another song that sounded oddly like the one before it (though I’m not saying I did that, Ging . . . don’t bother clicking that jumplink, please).
Three games into a four-game series, and into seven head-to-heads as the scheduled 162 draw to a close, and Texas hasn’t lost.
Yesterday afternoon, Richard Justice (MLB.com) noted that Houston was 20-9 in games started by Cy Young favorite Dallas Keuchel, and 57-59 in all other games.
Now, resoundingly, it’s 20-10.
Speaking of 2010 . . . .
No, no. Not now. As Jeff Banister told reporters late last night: “This is not an exhale moment.”
There’s another game to win tonight.
Sixteen more games after that.
But there’s something special going on right now, and if you’d told me on July 2 that there’d be 6,800 walk-up tickets sold for Texas-Houston on September 16, and that I’d be asked that mid-September week to do four out-of-market radio and Web hits (including this ESPN Podcast on Tuesday with Jonah Keri and Houston Chronicle writer Evan Drellich, which was a blast) after fewer than that the previous year and a half combined, then I might have examined the idea of a Wednesday night Lenny Kravitz show in Allen a little more critically.
(I’m not saying I would’ve, Ging . . . just might’ve . . . I mean . . . never mind.)
It’s highly unlikely, as Lenny delivered “Don’t come hanging ‘round my door / I don’t wanna see your shadow no more,” that I was thinking about Texas and Houston and who now owns the shadow, and I seriously doubt that I thought back to the Rangers’ first half during “It Ain’t Over ’Til It’s Over,” and there’s very little chance, Ging, that I imagined A.J. Hinch and Jeff Banister, in uniform, karaoking a bit:
Hinch: “I want to get away. I want to flyyyyyyy away.”
Banny: “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.”
Texas beat the Astros, 2-1, in a Keuchel start in Houston on May 4. Keuchel didn’t take the loss — he hasn’t taken a loss at home all year.
That game was nothing like last night’s. Ross Detwiler started it for Texas. Adam Rosales (hitting .148) started in place of Rougned Odor (hitting .146). Delino DeShields was a bench player — for one more day, as Leonys Martin would injure his wrist that night. The Rangers won with a tying run in the eighth and the decisive run in the ninth.
Last night’s, on the other hand, was an absolute butt-whipping from the get-go.
It gave Texas a 70-51 record between those two Keuchel-Texas matchups, good for second best in the American League.
Houston is 59-62 over that same stretch, 10th in the league.
Last night also padded a first-place perch in the division for the 2015 Texas Rangers, something that even the glass-half-full set could never have envisioned back when we bought tickets to see Lenny Kravitz.
+0.5 or +2.5.
Are you kidding me?
Like the man says, I guess: You just got to believe.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
(Love you, Ging.)
The last time Texas was in sole possession of first place, leadoff hitter Michael Choice and three-hole hitter Alex Rios and six-hole hitter Donnie Murphy (not David, not Daniel — but Donnie) drove in the Ranger runs, and Martin Perez went the distance, outdueling one of the league’s best pitchers, Oakland’s Sonny Gray.
Tonight, 511 days later, it’s Martin Perez against one of the league’s best pitchers, Houston’s Dallas Keuchel.
-1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
But for now: +0.5.
(Awkward lede, perhaps, but it’ll look cool in the book, I think.)
The game pitted Cole Hamels against Scott Kazmir, who’d faced off twice before in their big league careers, once in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series (Philadelphia 3, Tampa Bay 2) and again in Game 5 (Philadelphia 4, Tampa Bay 3), minutes after which the Commissioner handed Hamels the World Series MVP hardware.
A little less at stake in this one, but my adrenaline and my heartbeat and my stomach didn’t really get that.
It was a beautiful and grotesque and exhilarating and frustrating and awful and awesome baseball game, and I was 100 percent locked in and at times almost unable to watch.
That’s what makes mid-September baseball games that matter the best and the worst and the reason we commit head-first.
Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) tweeted this morning that you best “watch out for Texas . . . no team was more underrated in pre-season predictions,” while Jon Morosi (Fox Sports) pointed out that the Rangers “have not had sole possession of first place in [the] AL West this year. Not once. They can change that on Tuesday.”
Anthony Bass (Texas Rangers bullpen) tweeted, to the fewer than 28,000 who sounded like twice that: “That was LOUD tonight! Keep it coming . . . . ”
After Jake Diekman and Keone Kela relieved Hamels and kept a tie game knotted up in the top of the eighth, and not without a little drama, Fielder did remotely familiar Fielder things to a Will Harris pitch with one out and one on in the bottom of the inning that maybe should have never happened — strike two looked like it should have been ball four — as he obliterated 92, middle-middle, 408 feet to straightaway center with exit velocity that registered in miles per hour at 108, which is the number of stitches on a baseball, though if you told me Prince unstitched a few on that swing I’d buy it.
A dozen pitches later it was time for Shawn Tolleson. Carlos Correa’s single to center brought Jonathan Villar to the plate as the tying run — only because Jed Lowrie had left the game four innings earlier with a shin bruise — and though Tolleson induced a 4-3 double play (that Correa could have executed better mentally) and proceeded to then get ahead of Colby Rasmus, 1-2, with a 5-3 lead and nobody on base, Angels closer Huston Street had Houston down to its final strike with the bases empty and a three-run cushion just a day earlier, after which he allowed five straight Astros to both reach and score.
If Street had managed to preserve a 3-0 lead on Sunday by throwing one more strike with the bases empty, Tolleson’s matchup with Rasmus would have been for the AL West lead.
But it wasn’t.
(Swinging, effectively taking Gerry Davis out of the equation.)
-3.5, -1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
And yeah, if Street hadn’t violently spit the Angels-Astros game up Sunday afternoon, Texas would be ahead of everyone else in the AL West right now, for the first time all year.
Maybe, just maybe, tonight.
This isn’t the finish line, but it does feel like Frank Shorter entering the stadium.
And that’s no impostor joining him on the track.
It’s Hamels, Perez, Holland, and Lewis, against Correa, Altuve, Springer, and Rasmus.
And Kazmir, McHugh, Keuchel, and McCullers, against Choo, Beltre, Rougie, and maybe, just maybe, Prince.
If Springer didn’t catch the ball, Texas would be a half-game up right now.
But that doesn’t matter, either.
It’s 14 of the remaining 20 at home for the Rangers, and 10 of 19 on the road for the Astros, but whatever happens in these four in Arlington and then the three in Houston in a week and a half could make the rest a good bit less pivotal.
On May 3, just four weeks into the season, Texas was a whopping 9.5 games back in the division, having won a meager one-third of its games. It was the biggest AL West deficit the club has dug for itself all season, and at 8-16 it was also the furthest under .500 the Rangers have been this year.
On that same date, Houston won a season-best 10th straight, and was 7.0 games up on the West, also a high mark for the club in 2015.
The Rangers are 67-51.
The Astros are 59-59.
That also doesn’t matter.
-5.5, -3.5, -1.5, +0.5, or +2.5.
These next four matter. A lot.