What a weird season this has been for the Texas Rangers.
Good pitching and elite defensive play have overtaken an offense that has struggled with consistency since June.
Having followed this team for the 23 years since my Dad took me to my first game, I can say without a doubt that this is the best team the Rangers have ever fielded.
Going a step further, my father who has seen every team take the field in Arlington agrees with me.
The playoff teams in the late 90's took advantage of weak divisions and simply out-slugged the other teams in the American League.
They've never pitched like this.
They've never fielded the ball like this.
The only thing holding this team back has been its offense.
Wow, there's something I never thought I'd say.
Prior to this week I have made it clear that the Rangers need to win the West because another dance with the New York Yankees would hurt their chances for advancement.
After taking two of three and bouncing back immediately from a 9-2 throttling in the middle game, the Rangers proved yet again they can play with any team in any venue.
However, winning the West is the preferred way in and the bats may be coming around just in time to make a run at those Halos.
Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton were the primary causes of the offensive slump through the middle of the season. Both have started hitting again.
The addition of Pudge Rodriguez gives Ron Washington a better option than both Hank Blalock and Andruw Jones for the DH spot in the order.
Nelson Cruz, also fresh off the DL, has found the power stroke he had earlier in the season. Consistent at-bats should allow him to stay hot.
David Murphy and Marlon Byrd have been hitting well all season showing little sign of slowing down.
However, the most important addition to the Rangers lineup isn't a player.
It's a weapon.
Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon have added much needed speed to a lineup for a manager known for wanting to run as much as possible.
With Andrus and Borbon gliding around the bases at light speed, the Rangers have begun to steal runs, leaving no reason at all to sit around and wait for the pitcher to make a mistake.
With the power guys finding the seats again and the speed from Borbon and Andrus putting much-needed pressure on the opposition, the Rangers have started to light up the scoreboard again.
Fifteen runs over three games against the Red Sox a week and a half ago.
Twenty nine runs in four games with the Minnesota Twins last week.
Eleven runs against a tough Tampa Bay rotation on the road.
Eighteen runs over three games against the red-hot Yankees.
With a pitching staff that has led the league since the All-Star break and an offense hitting its way out of a two-month long slump, the Rangers are more than capable of catching both the Angels and the Red Sox for a playoff spot.
Of course, the Angels are still the priority.