Texas is 4 1/2 games up on Oakland now, with 19 to go (20 to go for the A's). They need to go 10-9 to hit the 80-82 record I predicted before the season, and 11-8 to finish at .500. As I think everyone knows since finishing first in the West in 1999, they've yet to finish higher than 3rd, and have finished above .500 just once.
That long streak of losing is, I think, the biggest reason the Rangers are looking at their worst season of attendance since TBIA opened in 1994. Fans want to see a team that wins. For most of this decade, the Rangers have been a losing team.
Evan Grant says that the Rangers are looking for answers about what they can expect going forward from, among others, Josh Hamilton, Matt Harrison, and Nelson Cruz, and both showed the Rangers something yesterday -- Hamilton that is isn't worn down yet, Harrison that he can bounce back from a bad inning and give the Rangers innings, Cruz that some of that power he showed in AAA (and in batting practice) can translate to the majors.
There was some discussion in the game day thread last night about why the Rangers waited until September to call up Cruz, and put themselves in a position where, regardless of what he does this month, there are still going to be questions about him.
My guess is that the team doesn't see Cruz in its future plans in any case -- it sees Josh Hamilton as its right fielder of the future, possibly as soon as 2009, and Cruz as trade bait. My guess is that the Rangers felt he wasn't going to help his trade value any by coming up to the majors before he did, and thus they chose to leave him in AAA and see what they could get for him. I'll be very surprised if they don't end up moving him before December.
Jeff Wilson says Harrison battled and made adjustments after giving up the Youkilis home run, which is what allowed Harrison to give the Rangers six innings.
Although Ron Washington says Warner Madrigal is getting a look as the 8th inning guy, Jamey Wright says he likes the 8th inning role and wants a shot at it going forward.