Yes, they will. Guaranteed.
If I were in Vegas, I'd place my entire savings on the odds that the Rangers will go into the playoffs as the AL West winner.
Living in the Dallas area my entire life, the talk has always been: "next year" or "They'll fade after the All-Star break." And, until now, that talk has always been true and relevant. But, not this year. And here's why:
The Rangers have one of the toughest second-half schedules in the big leagues. Going into the break, the Rangers were limping worse than a chihuahua after being attacked by a pack of wolves. They had lost eight of 11, including a four-game home sweep at the hands of the MLB-worst Orioles—the first time the birds had achieved that in 15 years.
But, the team had a few days off, regrouped, and came out with a vengeance—eager to avenge the horrible play before the break. The Rangers came within one out of a sweep at Fenway of the recent two-time World Series Champions. Next on the agenda was a three-game date with the Tigers where the Rangers had gone winless in their last 11 games spanning two seasons.
A gutsy, 14-inning win achieved at the mighty hands of a Nelson Cruz opposite field home run, was the most important victory of the season, so far. The team committed three errors (and got away with a fourth) and still won. The monkey is off the back of the Rangers as they head into the final two games of the series, beginning tonight at Comerica Park.
What looked like the beginning of the end for the Rangers—the beginning of the toughest stretch of the season—has been a positive, momentum-building road trip. While going 4-1 through the first five games of this road trip, the Rangers have held the lead in all five games in the eighth inning. They surrendered the lead only once—a 3-2 extra innings loss to the Red Sox.
They have started the second half on a tear, but the next few weeks are critical for this team and their legitimacy as title contenders. Following the Tigers, the Rangers come home to start a stretch of 16-consecutive games against divisional foes (seven at home, nine away).
It will be tough, but testing the depth and mindset of the team with good competition is a great test before the playoffs. This team can take it. They are ready.
It's time to forget the old M.O. of this team. It's time to put the Rangers on the national baseball map. It's time to believe in this team.