The 2013 Texas Rangers were one of the best Rangers teams in franchise history as they won 91 games (more wins than four of the Rangers' six division championship teams won). The 2013 Texas Rangers were also one of my least favorite Rangers team to watch because they were filled with unlikeable chodes like Lance Berkman, A.J. Pierzynski, and Matt Garza.
The 2013 Texas Rangers also had this infuriating habit of very, very rarely scoring runs in the first inning. That team scored just 55 runs in the first inning that entire season which was their fewest of any inning besides the ninth inning. The Rangers scored 54 runs in the ninth inning that season in just 124 opportunities compared to 163 first inning opportunities.
And it was so annoying. It felt like the team never had a lead.
The 2016 Texas Rangers had scored in the first inning of just two games in August and I was starting to get bad 2013 vibes. Tonight, the Rangers changed that in a big way as they scored five runs (it should be noted that the most runs the 2013 Rangers ever scored in the first inning of a game was three) in the first inning off one of the American League's best pitchers in Carlos Carrasco.
The big hit came off of the bat of Mitch Moreland who hit a two-out grand slam to give A.J. Griffin a huge lead in which to work with and put the Rangers on track for their second blowout win of the series in what has become a real back-and-forth affair between two of the best teams in the league.
After watching the Rangers and Indians trade blows over these last three nights, I couldn't help but think about how fun a playoff series between these two teams would be. The Indians arguably have the starting pitching advantage for regular season action but the Rangers have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish looming for any short series.
Offensively, obviously, each of these teams can break out any night and drop a bunch of runs. The Rangers lost a game in this series 12-1 and still have outscored the Indians 17-12 over the three games. Run differential regression, baby!
There's also the subplot of Jonathan Lucroy essentially choosing the Rangers over spending a non-insignificant amount of his life in Cleveland. You just know there's going to become a moment later this year where Lucroy steps into the box against Andrew Miller in the late-innings of a tied game and it will be really fun.
The Mariners lost to the White Sox tonight and with an Astros win over the Rays, Seattle and Houston are now tied for second place in the American League West but they trail the Rangers by 7 1/2 games.
With a tonight, the Rangers secured a season-series win over Cleveland ahead of tomorrow's finale which could become relevant should any October tiebreaker shenanigans need to be resolved.
Player of the Game: In the next few weeks, A.J. Griffin might become the Rangers' long reliever extraordinaire with Colby Lewis rehabbing and eyeing a return in early September. If this was one of Griffin's final starts of 2016, it was one of his best.
The reason Griffin is perhaps the odd man out when Colby returns is the team knows he's got a limited shelf life on the mound. In around five innings or 80 pitches, Griffin's effectiveness begins to taper off. Tonight, however, staked to a large lead, the Rangers were able to squeeze six sterling innings out of Griffin as he allowed just five hits while striking out six Cleveland hitters in his 95 pitches of scoreless ball.
Up Next: The Rangers and Indians close out their regular season series with Ohioan Derek Holland making his first start at home in over two months against RHP Danny Salazar. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 pm CT.