Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Third Straight Trip to Series within Sight for Rangers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Third Straight Trip to Series within Sight for Rangers

Article excerpt

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Going into the finale of a four-game series on the Rangers' last road trip, the team's credibility was suffering. Texas had lost three straight to New York and trailed the Yankees by 2 1/2 games for the American League's best record.

So here we are exactly two weeks later. Despite an 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday night, the Rangers lead those same Yankees by 21/2 games. Texas will enter September with the best record in the American League. The goal of earning a third straight trip to the World Series is well within sight.

"If we go into Cleveland and continue to win series, we'll be exactly where we want to be," manager Ron Washington said.

Make no mistake about it. Matt Harrison's out-of-character struggles against Tampa Bay were not a sign of impending doom. The fact that the club's only 15-game winner could give up six runs before recording his fourth out was a surprise, to be sure. But it was not an indication that the Rangers lack pitching.

If their starting staff is unpredictable, the Rangers' bullpen is next to unbeatable. In almost every statistical measure, the visiting Rays have the American League's best and hottest bullpen.

Before Wednesday's Tampa Bay victory -- but after suffering 6-5 and 1-0 losses the previous two nights -- Rays manager Joe Maddon paid the Rangers the ultimate compliment.

"Everyone talks about their offense, but we do not do well against their pitching. Their bullpen is as good as ours, and I love our bullpen," Maddon said.

Washington has bullpen depth, but mostly what he has these days is the ability -- given a lead -- to send out Mike Adams for the eighth and ridiculously hot Joe Nathan for the ninth.

If you think that's not good enough to win games from now until the end of October, you aren't paying attention.

But as we saw Wednesday, there is one prerequisite for making proper use of a bullpen. The starting pitching has to at least be functional.

For the Rangers, and especially for Harrison, that's usually the case.

But in giving up home runs to Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton in the first two innings, Harrison put the Rangers in a 6-0 hole from which they never recovered. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.