Texas Rangers Sweep Houston Astros, Take the Lead in the West
The Texas Rangers are now up to 2.5 games up in the AL West after starting the series behind the Astros 1.5 games. The Rangers moved to .5 game on the back of a solid start by Cole Hamels and a late-winning Prince Fielder home run.
The Rangers took a .5 game lead in the division with a walk-off sac fly on Tuesday (Sept. 15) from Mitch Moreland after pinch runner Drew Stubbs stole third base on Hank Conger. This was a common theme during the series.
After the game, Rangers manager Jeff Banister said: "September is never easy. Chasing a pennant is never easy. You can't exhale. You can celebrate the win tonight, go to sleep and get ready to do it again tomorrow."
The Rangers proved it on Wednesday, Sept. 16, when they poured it on 14-3 against Cy Young candidate Dallas Keuchel, while Martin Perez looked like he belonged in a playoff rotation.
And last night, Thursday, Sept. 17, Colby Lewis notched his 16th win of the season while the offense exploded yet again. This time, after a three-run Moreland home run in the 3rd inning, the Rangers tacked on insurance runs in the 7th and 8th innings.
Jeff Banister looked like a veteran manager, pulling all the right strings this week to put the Rangers in the best position to succeed. He has to be in the running for manager of the year after leading this team back from a dreadful start. What cannot be overlooked is the trade deadline moves that Jon Daniels made.
Even after the Cole Hamels trade the Rangers looked dead in the water. The Rangers worked waiver wire deals, which included Mike Napoli (who is playing LF now for the first time in his MLB career) and Drew Stubbs.
Daniels also traded off the only active catcher on the roster at the time for a relief pitcher in Sam Dyson, who has a 1.72 ERA in his last 15 appearances.
The Rangers are now being considered, at least by Buster Olney, as front runners to win the American League.
The Astros are not done yet as the Rangers still have to go to Houston for a three-game set. The Astros do have to stop the bleeding, however, as they start a home stand that includes the A's, the Angels, and the Rangers.
Mike Fiers (2-1, 3.07 ERA) takes the mound tonight against Felix Doubront (2-1, 5.14 ERA).
The Rangers continue the current home stand against the Seattle Mariners, with James Paxton (3-4, 3.82 ERA) going against the resident rat tail Ranger Yovani Gallardo (12-10, 3.35 ERA). Gallardo has been another brilliant move from Daniels. He has been a consistent force in the middle of this rotation that hasn't been present for several years.
The Rangers' magic number is now 14.