Cole Hamels Day
It’s not just that it’s late September, or that the Texas Rangers are 1.5 games ahead of the hated Astros in the AL West, or that the Angels are only a half game behind them for the 2nd Wild Card spot. It’s not that in the last few days we’ve seen the Rangers slide from what looked like a choke-hold (Papelbon pun not intended) lead in the West, and it’s not that Colby Lewis seems to thrive every 3rd or 4th game on being absolutely schizophrenic.
It’s that we’re not supposed to be here. On May 6, Bovada had the Rangers at 250-1 odds to win the World Series; currently, Rangers World Series win odds sit at 8-1, depending on where you look. In early May, Yu Darvish was out for the entire season, and we had no idea what horror to expect from the upcoming five months. Maybe more than anything, it’s sequencing and random variance, because the baseball context of the theory of random variance surely makes it entirely possible for a team to add only one starting pitcher and a handful of role players and suddenly be a realistic contender. It’s not that we just aren’t supposed to be here, we’re not even supposed to be in the conversation. Beloved Rangers punching bag Dave Cameron (see 12:12 comment) will gladly be the first to tell you that.
Texas has won eight Cole Hamels starts since they acquired him on July 29th and only lost two, now having won all eight in a row. Today is Cole Hamels day in Arlington. Hamels is the guy that puts an end to losing streaks. The Rangers have lost three in a row while the Angels have won six in a row and the Astros have won three in a row. You can’t do anything about whether the Astros or the Angels win tonight, but you can cut the magic number by a full game with a win of your own. If both AL West teams chasing the Rangers happen to lose, icing on the cake. It’s time to turn the tide, Cole.
There are several scenarios where the Rangers can clinch the West this week that involve other West competition losing their own games, but the most important thing the Rangers can do about it right now is to win games. The most important thing the Rangers can do about it today is to beat the Tigers tonight.
If you’re invested in this team at all more than a casual fan, you might feel obligated to make the trip out to 1000 Ballpark Way in Arlington for a game or two over the next six days to cheer for the Rangers to beat the Tigers and the Angels, and later this week you just might get to see the kind of on-field celebration nobody’s seen in Texas since late October of 2011.
Whether the Rangers clinch the division or end up with a Wild Card berth, they will clinch in Arlington, in front of home fans – barring the completion of an epic collapse of 2012 proportions. Houston hasn’t clinched anything and doesn’t have any remaining regular season games at home, and provided Cole Hamels gets a win tonight the only way the Angels can clinch the division or Wild Card would be in Arlington during the upcoming four-game set to finish the season. Coming into action tonight, the Angels are riding a six-game win streak. Should we hold our breath and hope the A’s can manage a win tonight in Los Angeles? I guess we can, but it won’t matter as much if the Rangers win.
Does anyone else think spoiling the rest of the division’s party might be just as much fun as winning the West in a year we were supposed to come in 4th or 5th place? I’ll be a Twins fan for the rest of this week if it means neither the Astros or Angels make it to the promised land of 163+ baseball games in 2015. I won’t quite go so far as to say that I’ll be an A’s fan tonight and tomorrow night, but I’m willing to hold my nose and say I hope they beat the Angels.
If there were anything the Rangers could do about those outcomes I’d be a lot more worried about them. All we need to worry about tonight is the Detroit Tigers and Daniel Norris, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Dixon Machado.
Come on, Cole Hamels. Be Cole Hamels.