The Return of the Great Hambino.
A week ago, the mood here at the sports desk was doleful and debased. The Rangers were at the tail end of their worst month of baseball since August 2008, and every down-and-out Josh Hamilton fan was lining up outside of the ballpark, ready to hand over their last can of snuff.
Fortunately, it seems as if Hamilton heard his fans' anxious pleas like the Book of Psalms ringing in his ear: “Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?” So he took their tobacco. And, with a new harvest of this vegetable, he started to show some signs of returning to strength.
But the team's recent resurgence hasn't been all Hamilton. Indeed, it was a team effort that turned things around for the Rangers in the last seven days. Surely, the Rangers must have felt a resounding pressure last Wednesday night in the ninth inning. Right when it looked as if the team was headed for a loss and a potential four-game skid at the hands of the Angels, the team burst forth, forging an offensive explosion that would last well into Thursday night.
It was an impressive onslaught. Collectively, Texas hit .295 with 84 hits and 50 RBI over the week — a performance that showed the team's offensive capabilities again. Good timing, too, what with the calendar marching forward to October at quick clip.
And so the Rangers sit 5.5 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West.
• The Rangers' hottest hitter in the last seven days is Ian Kinsler (.278 on the season), who had 12 hits in 27 at-bats, two of which went yard. One of those dingers was heard all over Texas, a solo shot off of Ernesto Frieri, coming in the bottom of the ninth and tying the game in the Rangers' 10th-inning comeback win against the Angels.
• The AL West-leading Rangers (65-45) are back on top of the American League, two games ahead of the New York Yankees and trailing only Washington and Cincinnati for bragging rights as the best team in baseball. The team's division rivals out west in Los Angeles and Oakland are 5.5 and 7 games back, respectively.
• Super phenom Mike Olt was recently called up to the Big Leagues from Double-A Frisco, and the 23-year-old corner infielder has answered the call nicely. He knocked in a pair of RBI on Saturday in the Rangers' defeat of the Royals. Expect the team to use him against left-handed pitchers moving forward.
• The Rangers' pitching situation remains shaky, although newcomer Ryan Dempster (5-5) looked fantastic in his second start for the Rangers in Boston. In his first start at Fenway Park in 11 years, he allowed just six hits. Meanwhile, Scott Feldman's resurgence continues to be a relief for the injury-rattled rotation, even as Yu Darvish has looked far less dominating in his last few outings. Darvish has given up 13 runs in his last 11 innings, and he hasn't won a decision since July 21. Similarly, Derek Holland has continued to struggle in recent weeks, giving up nine homers in his last four starts and watching his ERA climb above 5.00.
• Here's a fun fact pertaining to Rangers slugger Adrian Beltre's bomb over the Green Monster and out of the ballpark on Tuesday in Boston: The wall our in left field at Fenway stands at just over 37 feet tall, and is as old as Fenway itself — 100 years and counting. But it wasn't until 1947 that the notorious wall was actually painted green. Before that, it was covered with awesome-looking advertisements.
• The Rangers made a few notable transactions in the past week. As previously noted, Texas purchased the contract of Mike Olt from Frisco, and they also optioned Brandon Snyder to Round Rock. The team also released catcher Yorvit Torrealba to waivers.