All I can say is it is about freaking time!
As any true Rangers' fan knows it has rarely been easy to stand up for our team and get any respect. It has been almost a decade since we were in the playoffs, and we haven't even really been close recently.
My how times have changed.
I really think you can credit that to one area of play: the pitching.
To be even more specific, the starting pitching has been stellar. I don't know that we have EVER had this many quality outings from our starting pitchers in a row. I also think the majority of the credit can be given to one man.
I must first admit that Nolan Ryan has been my favorite baseball player for as long as I can remember. My bias aside, his shift in attitude for the pitching staff is the direct cause of their improvement.
He is teaching them, including the veterans, how to be a tough, professional athlete that earns his check, and goes out every outing and gives his best. He was a tough pitcher when he played, and that attitude is now being transferred to the staff.
I honestly think his hiring was the best move the Rangers have made in the last decade and should have been done much sooner.
It is important to give Mike Maddux some credit, because he has definitely had a good impact on the staff. The whole organization has had a hand in their success. The coaches have showed their confidence in the pitchers, and the pitchers have responded with quality outings.
It is huge that the pitchers have started to forget about their pitch counts and what inning it is and just go out and throw their best stuff.
Most pitchers in the majors these days don't expect to pitch past the sixth inning on most nights, and rarely...if ever, much over 100 pitches. But our pitchers are staying in the game for as long as they are pitching effectively, and that has been a huge upside for this entire team.
As for this glorious weekend, what better way to spend it than to watch your team sweep their division rivals and expand their lead in the division.
The Angels, who constantly get the face time on ESPN and all the credit from the analysts, are now 4.5 games back, and the Rangers are nine games over .500.
Friday night was a little scary at the end, but we held on to win, and that is ultimately what matters. It can be easy for a team to just let it all fall apart when the other team starts to score a bunch, but in the end they buckled down and closed it out.
I was lucky enough to go to the game on Saturday afternoon thanks to the rain delay. I didn't think I would make it because the Marine Corps has a way of telling me when I get off work, and it is not usually by 3:10.
However, the glorious rain delayed the game just enough for me to make it.
Being in that beautiful ballpark reaffirmed to me that it is one of the best places to watch a game in the country, but alas, I digress. It was a great game to watch once we got going.
John Lackey's bonehead play in the first was just ridiculous, but I guess he was a little bitter that his hometown team kicked his trash the last time he faced us.
It was just a well played game without any truly eventful moments, but you are bound to have some like that when you win seven in a row.
Today's game was yet another pitching gem that we have become used to in recent weeks. Feldman has certainly earned his spot in the rotation, and it is so nice to have confidence in our rotation.
Hamilton's catch deep in the gap was also simply amazing. I'm sure the front office is doing everything they can to lock him up for years to come, and I am hoping that their success this season will aid in that effort.
He is a huge part of not only how well the team is playing, but how good the chemistry is with this whole team. I also have tremendous respect for him as a person and everything he has been through.
Here's hoping he is around for years to come.
The whole team is really gelling in a way that leads me to believe they truly have a shot this year...and not just a fan's hope.
Forgive me if I am exuding a little too much joy, but I have been a die-hard Rangers fan since I was five, and this is the first time I have been able to be proud of it. All the other teams I am a fan of have had their moment in the sun, but the team that I REALLY care about has never really been great, even when they won the division.
There is no way to know what will happen in the remaining three quarters of the season, but if nothing else we are going to make some waves and force some people to pay attention.
In some ways it is good that we are flying under the radar a little, because we can just keep winning all the way to the end.