Eleven days ago it seemed as if the season could not get any worse for the Texas Rangers, losing in San Diego to the Padres 5-1. That moved the Rangers season record to 13-20, and secured their slot at 5th place in the American League West Division. For the back to back AL West champions, this was an extremely underwhelming start to the 2017 campaign.
The next day, Ranger fans got a glimmer of hope when they saw A.J. Griffin take the ball and pitch a complete game shutout against the Padres. Most Rangers fans took the blowout with a grain of salt, as they had done it against the San Diego Padres, who have consistently been a basement dweller in the MLB. The Rangers then headed back to Arlington for an 8 game home stand where they would face the Padres, Athletics, and Phillies.
With a mixture of clutch starting pitching, potent offense, and a shutdown bullpen, the Rangers would go on to sweep the next three series and improve to 22-20. With the ongoing winning streak taking the attention of most baseball fans, it has not come without struggle, as center fielder Carlos Gomez exited the game Sunday afternoon with a hamstring injury. The injury is expected to keep him on the disabled list for 4-6 weeks, and in an ironic twist, has given another young center fielder a chance at the big league level.
28 year old Jared Hoying got the call to join the Rangers while Gomez was on the disabled list, and he has proven to be an intricate part in the Rangers success against the Phillies. The highlight of his initial success came on Wednesday night when he went 4-4 with a home run and was a triple shy of the cycle. And with this success, the humble Hoying has said that he is extremely comfortable in the Rangers clubhouse, and that the chemistry in Texas is special to him.
There was also a special pitching debut on Wednesday night going into the 9th inning, as 32 year old rookie RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx entered the game with a 9-2 lead. He gave up one earned run off one hit in the 9th inning, however he finished off the 9th inning getting the close and stretching the streak to 8 games. This was a special moment for the 32 year old right handed pitcher, as he entered independent leagues a decade earlier and struggled in the minors before pitching in the big leagues on Wednesday night.
With Adrian Beltre expected to rejoin the team within 2-3 weeks and Carlos Gomez and Cole Hamels expected to rejoin the team before the all star break, the Rangers have the potential to make serious noise in the Al West. Despite the torrid hot streak that has taken place over the past eleven days, the first place Houston Astros continue to dominate the AL West with a 7.5 game lead over the 2nd place Rangers.
The Rangers will face the Astros 15 more times in the 2017 season, and you can be sure that there will be fireworks down the stretch as this rivalry continues. If the Rangers keep on the winning streak that has slingshot them into 2nd place, the 15 round prize fight for the AL West title will once again happen at Globe Life Park and Minute Maid Park.
Get all the latest stats, fantasy news, videos and more on Texas Rangers outfielder Jared Hoying at texasrangers.com.
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The Texas Rangers won their eighth consecutive game Wednesday night, a 9-3 laugher over the Philadelphia Phillies at Globe Life Park. The Rangers last won eight consecutive games in August 2013. Wednesday's win improved their record to 21-20, the first time this season the Rangers have been over .500.