On July 28, the Texas Rangers lost at home to the New York Yankees.
Why is this noteworthy, you ask? Well, for two reasons. One, because the Rangers were embarrassed 21-5 to fall to 47-52 on the season. And two, because the Rangers have since gone 31-15 and lead the AL West by 1.5 games entering play September 17.
How in the world did the Rangers turn their season around?
“Well, that’s a good question,” Rangers manager Jeff Bannister said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I really believe it was how we started in spring training. Really, it goes all the way back to spring training and our mindset and the mission we decided to collectively go on and all the adversity that we had to overcome to get to that point. The month of April, only winning seven games, playing very well in May and June and then faltering. And then a group of guys that really got pushed against a wall – one thing I know about these guys is they wash very well. They don’t worry too much about games like that. They’re tough, they’re grueling. But this is a group of guys that really have overcome a lot of different things within this year, starting back in spring training losing Yu Darvish and then Opening Day Derek Holland. So I think it’s all in one bucket, really.”
Interesting enough, the Rangers blitzed Astros starter Dallas Keuchel in a three-homer, six-run first inning Wednesday. The Rangers scored nine runs on 11 hits in 4.2 innings off Keuchel in a 14-3 win in Arlington.
Why is this noteworthy, you ask? Well, because Keuchel dominated the Rangers in a 10-0 Astros win in July, striking out 10 over seven shutout innings. At the time, Keuchel also made some disparaging remarks about the Rangers.
Texas didn’t forget.
“Well, I believe our guys remembered that game very well,” Bannister said. “I believe it was in the very front of their brains, their memory. Like I said, these guys wash very well, but they have a long memory. They had something to prove. They had a place they wanted to get to, and they worked very hard to get to this point. They weren’t willing to exhale and say ‘Okay, now that we got here, let’s party.’ It’s all about mission forward. It just happened to be Dallas Keuchel.”
A win Thursday would give the Rangers (78-67) a four-game sweep of the Astros (77-69). Houston has lost seven of nine.