Found September 03, 2013 on Sports Blog Net:
About a week and a half ago, we were discussing how it looked as if the Texas Rangers were starting to peak at the right time. It appeared the offense was finally catching up to their pitching staff and they had a three-game lead over the Oakland Athletics for first place in the American League West division. Fast forward to the beginning of September, and the story has changed. After losing three out of their last four games, the Rangers find themselves in a first place tie with the A's. The last loss was a 4-2 defeat to Oakland in the first of a three game set in the bay area on Monday afternoon. This comes after Texas lost two out of three games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington against the lowly Minnesota Twins. There are two things to take out of this latest turn of events. One, anyone who counted out the Athletics from winning the AL West either have a short memory or they just haven't followed this team in the last few years. The A's are never out of anything and they always seem to play their best baseball when the times are most critical. Rangers fans should know this first hand, and the memories are quite painful. It was Oakland who swept a three-game series from Texas at the end of last season to steal the division title. The Rangers would go on to lose the Wild Card "play-in" game to the Baltimore Orioles two days later. In other words, the fact the Athletics are right there with the Rangers shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. This is a team that won't give up anything easy. Two, this is the wrong time for the Rangers' bats to fall silent once again. It has been peaks and valleys for Texas' offense throughout this season, and this is definitely one of these valleys. In the last four games, the Rangers have scored two runs in each of them. That's not going to get it done down the stretch. From my vantage point, it's not because of a lack of opportunities being produced by the offense. Sometimes, the Rangers just have a problem getting the timely hits needed to knock runs in. They have a lineup with a lot of speed, so they can get on the base pass steal lots of bases. All of that doesn't matter if those runners can cross home plate from big hits. If they can get those timely hits, those games where the Rangers score two or less runs can turn into games where they score five or more runs. A perfect example was seen from yesterday's game. In the top of the ninth and trailing 4-2, the Rangers had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. A base hit would probably tie the game with Leonys Martin and David Murphy being the base runners. One would think with Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre coming to bat, a big hit would be on deck. Instead, Kinsler flied out and Beltre grounded out to end the game. It moments like those where the Rangers have to come through. If they can't start doing this consistently, it might be another fall the Rangers, and their fans, will want to forget. By Charles Taylor
THE BACKYARD
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