The Rangers won their 90th game of the season tonight. It is only the sixth time in franchise history that the team has hit the 90 win mark. The Rangers also won 90 games in 1996 and 2010. The 1977 Rangers won 94 games, the 1999 Rangers won 95 games, and the 2011 Rangers won 96 games. With ten games still to play, the Rangers have a good chance of matching their all-time high victory total.
The Rangers also maintained their 4 game lead over the A's with this win, and increased their edge over the Yankees for the best record in the A.L. The team's magic number is 7, with a four game series against the A's, at home, starting tomorrow. Taking three of four means the Rangers can finish no worse than in a tie for first place in the division, and a sweep clinches the division.
It was a good day today, all in all. And yet, the 3-2 win against the Mariners didn't really feel like a win. Ryan Dempster pitched well, allowing no runs through six innings, then finally getting chased when he allowed a pair of homers in the bottom of the 7th. Robbie Ross appeared for just the second time since returning from the d.l. Mike Adams had one of those Mike Adams outings, allowing a pair of weakly hit singles and loading the bases with one out before escaping without allowing a run. Joe Nathan got the save.
But still, its the Mariners, right? The Rangers had to win this game to avoid a sweep, and to avoid losing the season series to Seattle. Mike Napoli and Geovany Soto had big home runs, but there were no hits with runners in scoring position, guys couldn't get runners home for third with less than two outs, Ian Kinsler didn't get a bunt down, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz were hitless, and Josh Hamilton is still in sinus limbo.
After the game, there seemed to be an attitude more of disappointment than anything else. Scoring just 6 runs in three games against the Mariners? If that's what the offense is doing now, how can we count on them in the postseason?
Its weird. I'm not that worried about the offense. We know what the bats are capable of. This is probably the best team in the A.L. Anything can happen in a short series, sure...but I'm confident that, come October, the offense will click. The pitching will be there. This team isn't unbeatable, but it should be the favorite in any postseason series, no matter the opponent.
It may just be the malaise of a long season, with a lot more bumps than we're used to, with heightened expectations and 90 win seasons being the "new normal." Its not enough to win...we want to see the team win pretty.
Ten more games to go. If the Rangers maintain the best record in the A.L., their first playoff game will be two weeks from today.
Its strange...its like we've reached a point where the regular season doesn't count. The playoffs are the "real" season. And maybe that's the problem now...this is like the way we feel when spring training is almost over, and after the excitement of baseball being back has worn out, we're bored with spring training and ready for "real" baseball to start.
And thus, with a playoff spot pretty well guaranteed, it feels like we're biding our time, waiting, waiting for the "real" season to start, either in thirteen or fourteen days.