ARLINGTON—It was a hot night out at the Temple. Coming off of a home series where they stole three out of four from the hated Halos, the Rangers were no doubt one of the hottest teams in the American League coming into tonight's matchup against another division rival in the swinging A's from Oakland.
The Athletics, who previously trailed Texas by seven-and-a-half games in the American League West standings, brought out ace Gio Gonzales, while Texas countered with lefty ace Cliff Lee.
Lee demonstrated his typical dominance and incredible control, striking out 13 batters and embarrassing more Hispanic males than Rico Suave.
The lone Oakland run came on a throw from Bengie Molina at home plate to an empty second base (error credited to Ian Kinsler). The error was followed up by an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki that scored Coco Crisp. Texas' run came on an RBI double by Vlad "The Impaler" Guerrero in the first inning, scoring a speeding Michael Young.
However, the Rangers failed to score a run in the bottom of the ninth, leading to a 1-1 extra innings tie and a zero ER no-decision for Cliff.
The Rangers brought in rookie closer Nefty Feliz to shut the Athletics down in the top of the 10th, which he did using his powerful fastball. Then, in the bottom of the 10th, after a Josh Hamilton walk, Nelson Cruz hit a monster shot to the right side of the outfield seats, giving the Rangers the 3-1 victory.
This game, however, means more than a simple win over a division rival. The Rangers not only keep their momentum going after a difficult series with the Anaheim Angels, but increase their lead even more in the AL West standings. They also improve to 59-41, 18 games over .500 entering August, and sitting atop a soft eight-and-a-half game cushion between themselves and the second place team in the west.
These Rangers look to be the best in the (albeit somewhat weak) history of the franchise.
The primary difference between this year's team and playoff teams of the past? Our pitching staff; particularly the man of the hour, Cliff.
Pitcher C.J. Wilson is clearly learning from the veteran ace, a fact evident when he pitched an eight-inning shutout against the Angels last Friday night. Cliff seems to be teaching lots of Rangers how to keep their balls in check, a lesson that a few Cowboys should probably learn as well (looking at you, Martellus).