Step Back From That Ledge, My Friend

There is nothing like a 6-game win streak to make everyone take a few steps back from the ledge. Actually, everyone can probably get down off the building and go home. Leave the ledge alone. Enjoy the Rangers on your own couch, with your significant other, or maybe your dog. Smile, grab a drink, and forget that ledge ever existed. The Texas Rangers are a good baseball club. The Texas Rangers, at the moment I am writing this, have the best record in baseball. Everything is right in the world again.
What makes this 6-game win streak just a little more special is that the Rangers won four of those games without Josh Hamilton and with four pitchers on the disabled list—not that I ever relish the idea of a Josh Hamilton-less lineup or injuries. Even with the slow month of June he’s had, Josh Hamilton is still in the argument for the Rangers’ best hitter. However, the Rangers offense didn’t need Hamilton for the three games against the Astros, scoring 6, 8, and 9 respectively during the three-game series. The rest of the Rangers lineup was able to hit, run, and score without Josh Hamilton. Performing well without your best hitter is the first step to admitting you have a good ballclub.

The Rangers pitching staff have certainly taken quite a hit this season. First Neftali Feliz goes down with an inflamed elbow, then Derek Holland with shoulder fatigue. Alexi Ogando gets a start because of it, and then he strains his groin running out a throw to first base. To top it all off, one of the best arms in the bullpen, Koji Uehara, gets a DL assignment due to a strained lat muscle. Panic mode seemed to set in quite nicely. The Rangers moved on without these guys. Colby Lewis, Yu Darvish, and Matt Harrison have held down the rotation with solid games. Justin Grimm came up for his first MLB game, and impressively got the win. Even Scott Feldman had a good night with only 2 runs given up in 6 IP on Tuesday against the Padres. Of course, Robbie Ross and Joe Nathan have been nothing short of tremendous. Robbie Ross has the lowest ERA on the team, which dropped to a 1.18 after allowing zero runs in his last thirteen appearances.  The Texas Rangers are sitting at a 12-7 record for the month of June after starting 3-6. Great pitching is the second step to admitting you have a good ballclub.

Of course, the argument stands that the Rangers played the Astros and the Padres during this 6-game win streak, who are less than mediocre ballclubs. The argument still stands that the Rangers should have beaten these teams easily and in a hurry. Well, they did. They did exactly that. I promise it is okay to be excited about a 6-game win streak, no matter who the Rangers are playing. If the Rangers had lost any of these games, you’d probably be angry. So be happy that they did exactly what they were supposed to do. They won. Winning consistently, and when it’s expected, is the third step to admitting you have a good ballclub.

April 2012 spoiled the average Ranger fan. April spoiled us all. The absolute lights-out domination of the Rangers in April made everyone quick to scream about the “best team in baseball ever.” Sure, we can tap the breaks on that theory a bit. Although, if it had not been for that team we saw in April, the Rangers would probably be in a closer battle for the AL West, or, brace yourself, they might even been in second place right now. Slumps don’t last forever, but neither do the peaks in the season. Peaks help the slumps look not so bad when they’re over. If not for that spectacular April, the Rangers would not still be 5 games up on the Angels, still leading the AL West.

Take a deep breath. Have you backed away from the ledge? Maybe you can’t let the ledge go completely as dreams of that April baseball team still appear in your dreams. That’s okay. The ledge will always be there. Hopefully, in July when this team has all it’s moving parts back in line, and they fall apart in a game and lose in terrible fashion, you’ll have taken enough steps back from the ledge to not be able to jump. Hopefully, you will have seen just what this club can do even when things go wrong. The Texas Rangers are no longer the Rangers of 2003. The Texas Rangers are a good baseball club. Admit it.

Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. She can be reached via email at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @EmLikesBaseball
Emily Cates

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