MLB Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers’ quest for home field advantage in the playoffs

rangers-clench-playoff

The American League West title has been decided, and the Texas Rangers are on their way to the playoffs. Now they’re in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage. The series with Milwaukee is closed and in the books. With two wins in their three-game series under their belts (3-8, 6-4, 8-5), the Rangers’ next stop will be in Tampa Bay, where they will continue to fight for home field advantage.

Carlos Gomez and his sure shot

If there were any questions about Carlos Gomez leading off in the playoffs, they got answered tonight. With the performance Gomez gave in this come-from-behind victory against the Brewers, I think his place is set in stone. Gomez had a three-run go-ahead homer in the eighth inning that raised his average to .415 in his last 10 games. Adding to that statistic, he has had three home runs and 10 RBIs in that exact same time span. There is no possible way that can be ignored. Gomez’s position in the playoffs is sealed.

Pitch perfect

Cole Hamel was in great form, with seven innings and six strikeouts. Hamels’ amazing consistency is what shined in this series and throughout the seasons he’s played. When you have a player that averages 200 innings and 200 strikeouts a season, you can’t deny he is in prime position to be your go-to pitcher when you need him the most. In this game, he gave up a homer to the game’s first batter for the first time this season. He had two unearned runs scored against him, a total he has not allowed since June. From there, Jeremy Jeffress took the mound and had two scoreless innings.

Speed and power

Rougned Odor homered in his first time at bat. He then laid down a bunt when he returned. When you look at his statistics for the season, you can’t help but be somewhat impressed. This year, he’s had nine bunt hits and 32 home runs. When you have a player that is literally one bunt hit under a record that was set in 1976, that is something to pay attention to.

The game details

Pitcher Jonathan Lucroy started the eighth on a two-base error when the ball deflected off the glove of center fielder Hernan Perez. Delino DeShields came on as a pinch-runner. After Mitch Moreland walked, he scored the game-tying run when Elvis Andrus met reliever Tyler Thornburg with a single to center. Carlos Gomez then hit a 418-foot homer to left field, his 13th home run this season. He had a three-run homer on Tuesday night, that one traveling 444 feet. The Rangers had four scores in the eighth inning, which was basically the icing on the cake to secure them winning the game and ending the series.

The battle for home field advantage

The Rangers did themselves a huge favor in this come-from-behind victory over Milwaukee to cement their place in getting home-field advantage in the playoffs. Ironically, the New York Yankees did the Rangers a favor, too. With their 5-3 win over Boston, they keep the Red Sox that much farther away from surpassing the Rangers in securing that spot. The Rangers are currently ahead of the Red Sox by 1 ½ games for the best record in the American League. As the Rangers move on to their series against Tampa Bay, that lead should not be squandered.

What’s next?

The Rangers now will start a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays, pass “Go,” and proceed to the playoffs and onto their quest for a World Series title. As they finish up their regular season, they will begin to put together their lineup for their playoff games. Their hopes are that outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will be able to return to the team during their playoff run after suffering a fractured left forearm in mid-August that put him on the disabled list.

Ironically, with Choo’s injury, several standout players who have had remarkable performances, including Carlos Gomez, signed in his wake and put the Rangers in the position to get to the playoffs. As the Rangers work to make sure they put together the best players to lead them to a World Series title, finishing out the regular season with the best record in the American League will be the primary focus.

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