Playoff Push...Part 2
Writer: Aaron Hendon
With one week left in the 2017 Major League Season, winning 10 of their 18 games through the 1st three weeks of September, the Texas Ranger still sit just 2.5 games out of the 2nd wild card spot behind the Minnesota Twins, with a somewhat favorable schedule down the stretch. Coming off a series in which they swept the Seattle Mariners putting more separation between the division rival Tonight they will finish the west coast swing for the final road trip with 3 games in Oakland to take on the A's.
Nick Martinez (3-6, 5.47 ERA) will take the mound tonight facing the A's for the 3rd time this year, up against Kendall Graveman who has gave the Rangers fits in their three meetings this year holding them to 2 runs per game in those three starts. Struggling this year on the road, Nick posts a 5.31 ERA on the road while opponents are hitting. 274.The Rangers are running out of time and desperately need nothing but quality starts if they want to stay in the race while the A's are playing the spoiler role at this point. Luckily in Seattle they were getting the quality starts they needed, keeping the Mariners at bay. While the bullpen did their job only allowing 4 runs in that series.
On the other side, the Rangers continue to be streaky as ever at the plate. Once again led by SS Elvis Andrus who is having another career year and on his way to his 1st silver slugger award, Elvis absolutely has been the most consistent hitter on the team leading all AL shortstops in batting average (.302), RBI's (86), doubles (42), runs (96), and stolen bases (24).Getting Adrian Beltre back off the disabled list has been a great add, even if he's not 100%, his presence in the middle of the order and the capability to have veteran at bats in big spots is a must have this time of year.
Looking at the schedules for the 3 teams that seem to still be in contention over the last week, the Twins, the Angels (2.5 GB), and the Rangers (2.5 GB). All have favorable schedules with one tough series in the mix. The twins will play 7 more games with the horrendous Detroit Tigers, but will also head to Cleveland to take on the hottest team in baseball. With a 2.5 game lead on both the Angels and Rangers, they control their own destiny. The Angels will finish the season with 10 straight games, 7 of those being on the road this weekend in Houston, then in Chicago versus the struggling white sox, and will cap off the year with 3 at home with Seattle. The Rangers, will also play 10 straight, starting with 3 on the road in Oakland tonight which they have split the season series even at 6-6. They’ll head back to Texas for 7 straight home games starting with the season finale of the Silver Boot series, the Astros lead 9-7, then Oakland will meet with the Rangers again for 4 games to finish the year.
This ought to be a fun week if the Rangers can keep it close, all though they are counting on the Twins to lose, they can only focus on themselves by winning each day. If they can find a way to sneak into the 2nd wild card spot, that would be three straight years of playoff baseball in Arlington. On the other side, the Twins are looking for their 1st playoff berth since winning the AL central 2010, and for the Angels this would be their 1st time back since 2014 in which they won the AL west.