With 22 games to go, the Texas Rangers (83-57) have all but wrapped up the AL West. They lead the Astros (75-65) by 8.5 games in the AL West and have the second best record in baseball behind the Chicago Cubs (89-50).
Texas is playing with a singular focus, which is what you would expect from a team that has experienced so many highs and lows over the last year or so.
“I think you have to go back to last year even and the addition of Cole Hamels,” former All-Star and current FS Southwest Rangers voice Steve Busby said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “When they went and got Cole at the trade deadline of 2015, it really sent a message to the ball club. That’s when it really took hold that the front office is serious about this, they’re going to do whatever they can to help us along, and that feeling perpetuated itself throughout the winter. Even though it was a bittersweet end to the season last year in Toronto, the guys really took that to heart. I think that was the first time that many of the guys realized how much was invested in them. They came into this season feeling they had some unfinished business.”
Especially Elvis Andrus, who committed two errors in the same inning of Game 5 of the ALDS last October.
“Elvis Andrus had a terrible last inning that we all remember from Toronto, and he really took that to heart,” Busby said. “I’m not going to say he’s a man on a mission, because I think he always has been a good competitor, but he had something to prove to himself – and he has. Adrian Beltre has felt the same way. This club has had the momentum building really since spring training, and when they went out and got Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran and most recently Carlos Gomez, it just fortified that feeling. This ball club right now is playing as good a baseball as they have all year. If they can just get a little bit of help in the bullpen, I think they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
To be fair, though, the same could be said for several other AL lineups.
“Well, I think the two that stand out every quickly are the Toronto lineup – they are are as power-laden as you’re going to find in baseball – and the Boston Red Sox,” Busby said. “Boston has five people at the top of their order that are going to be vying for the MVP. Those two teams can really put runs up in a hurry. Baltimore has a lot of power, but they can be pitched to. I just think that Boston and Toronto are the two scariest lineups.”