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Thoughts on a 5-0 Rangers win

Rangers 5, A’s 0

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Rangers 5, A’s 0

  • I’m finding myself asking myself, at what point do I believe this team is for real?
  • I have repeatedly cautioned when writing about this season that it is still early, that there’s a long way to go, and that’s for myself as much as anyone else. I remind myself of the 2019 team that was ten games over .500 in late June, and that ended up finishing below .500. I remind myself of the 2009 team that was in first place for much of the first half of the year, and that ended the season 10 games back, albeit with 87 wins.
  • And there’s still a long way to go. But Sunday will be the 40th game of the season. We are coming up on the quarter mark. And the Rangers have a +91 run differential that is still the second best in baseball, behind only the freak show Rays. The next best team in MLB is the Atlanta Braves, at +54. The next three teams behind the Rangers in the A.L. have a combined RD of +93.
  • The Rangers have two legitimate stars in the everyday lineup in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien — and Seager has missed the last month. Texas has young players looking like first division regulars supporting them. They have a deep rotation that is rolling right along despite Jacob deGrom being on the shelf.
  • Texas is currently on a 100 win pace. They are 3.5 games up on Anaheim, 4 games up on Houston and Seattle. They came into today second in the majors in wRC+ and seventh in ERA+.
  • They aren’t going to win 100 games this year, I don’t think…but they look like they should win a lot of games. The team has its weaknesses, it is going to have slumps, it’s not perfect…but maybe, just maybe, it’s legit?
  • I fear even speaking this out loud, lest I tempt fate and bring doom by vocalizing what shouldn’t be spoken of. Maybe I should keep telling myself this is an 87 win team that with some breaks can sneak into the Wild Card. Maybe that’s the way to not hex what is happening, and to keep myself from hoping for too much.
  • And yet…I look at Jon Gray, the big free agent signing last offseason, treated as almost an afterthought coming into the year. Gray took a no hitter into the seventh inning. He ended up going eight full innings, lowering his ERA on the year to 3.15. Pitching like the guy we thought maybe he could be if he could just get out of the cursed mountain air of Colorado.
  • The young players in the lineup performing like first division starters? They came up big on Saturday. Ezequiel Duran had a big two run homer. Nathaniel Lowe, Josh Jung and Leody Taveras each had two hits. Hell, even Josh Smith had a double before leaving the game with a bruised foot courtesy of his 8th HBP of the season.
  • This team even has the positive veteran clubhouse vibes. The broadcast today talked about Brad Miller helping Josh Smith during Smith’s recent offensive surge, and Leody Taveras crediting Miller, along with Adolis Garcia, for helping him get into a good groove at the plate. Nathan Eovaldi, meanwhile, has every pitcher praising him for what he does to make them all better.
  • Is it time to believe, to think this team is for real? I don’t know. I am hesitant to commit just yet. I’ve been burned before, and I keep saying let’s see where things stand on Memorial Day, see if guys are still hitting and if the rotation is still somewhat healthy and if the bullpen has avoided imploding.
  • So I’m not quite there yet. But I’m getting closer to there. A whole lot closer.
  • Jon Gray topped out at 97.1 mph with his fastball. John King’s sinker hit 95.0 mph.
  • Ezequiel Duran’s home run was 108.0 mph off the bat, while Nathaniel Lowe’s bomb was 102.0 mph. Leody Taveras had a 104.8 mph double and a 100.8 mph single. Josh Jung had a 105.3 mph single.
  • Series finale and road trip finale on Sunday. Let’s see if they give us more reason to believe.