ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers, with a lot of help from the Houston Astros, continued to do their part to keep the postseason hopes alive for the Rangers Wednesday night.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, none of the other teams involved in the wild-card hunt cooperated.
The Rangers completed a 17-2 season against Houston with a 7-3 victory, but wins by both Tampa Bay and Cleveland kept the Rangers on the outside looking in as the Rangers welcome Los Angeles to town for the final series of the year.
Texas trails Tampa Bay by two games for the top wild-card spot and Cleveland by one with four to go. The Rangers still need help if they are to make the postseason for a fourth-consecutive season, but they can control that.
“You just get the mentality of taking care of the business that’s in front of you,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “If we can continue to win ballgames, I don’t care what they do. If they win out the streak and we win out the string also, then that’s just the way it is. We really can’t concentrate on what Cleveland is Tampa is doing. We’ve got to concentrate on what’s in front of us. We’re playing a Major League ballclub also.”
The Rangers were fortunate this series that club was the Astros.
Texas finished the season with 11-consecutive victories against the hapless Astros, who set a franchise record with their 108th loss of the season. The 17 wins against Houston ties the Rangers for most wins against one team in a season since divisional play began. Only five teams have done that, with Cleveland’s win over Chicago Wednesday also getting the Indians into the 17-win club.
Wednesday’s win was more difficult than some of the other 16 have come against Houston this year as the Rangers had to rally for the 47th time this season, the most in the majors.
Texas trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth and was being no-hit by Dallas Keuchel after he retired the first two batters of the inning.
But in typical Texas-Houston fashion, everything turned and turned quickly. Jeff Baker’s single broke up the no-hitter and was followed by a walk and a hit batter. Leonys Martin then drilled a three-run double to right and the Rangers were out to a 4-3 lead.
“It was obviously a good swing and we needed a hit, a timely hit,” said Martin, who has four hits that resulted in at least three RBI this season. “We were all looking for a big inning like that. Thank God we were able to produce.”
Singles by Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus followed and the Rangers were on their way to their 36th win in the last 43 meetings against Houston.
Rookie lefty Martin Perez (10-5) surrendered three runs in the top of the fourth but that was it as he pitched seven innings to become the third Texas pitcher to reach double figures in wins this year.
“I just need to minimize the damage and continue to pitch,” Perez said. “That’s what I did tonight. After the got the three runs, I just thought I had to stop this here. I knew we could get some runs and win the ballgame.”
It is all about winning ballgames and getting some help for Texas now.
Like the three wild-card contenders, the Angels have something to play for Texas. Los Angeles has won seven of its last 10 games and if they can sweep Texas, they can salvage a winning record in what’s been a disaster of a season.
They could also spoil the Texas playoff plans along the way.
The Rangers are aware of that and ready for what figures to be a wild, wild-card final four days to the season.
“We’ve got to find a way to win,” said Andrus, who stole his 41st base Wednesday. “We know the Angels have a great team but we’ve swept them before and we know it’s not impossible. Just keeping winning, that’s our mindset right now. We’re competing and that’s what baseball is all about.”