It was a night prefaced by good news -- that is, Derek Holland apparently being slotted to start Game 2 of the ALDS this Saturday -- that only got better with the passage of time, and a night about as fulfilling as the "meaningless" penultimate game of any team's season could ever possibly be. As fantastic as it may sound on the surface, this may not be a game that I ever completely forget ... and when you've grown all too well acquainted with the feeling of creative burnout and a flickering passion for baseball itself, this is the kind of game that you really find yourself appreciating to the hilt.
Beyond Colby Lewis sucker-punching a defeated Angels lineup in the jaw with six quality frames and some jittery relief work from the troika of Mike Gonzalez, Yoshinori Tateyama, and Alexi Ogando, there was virtually nothing deserving of particular scorn or praise in the sphere of run prevention. Lewis was good, but it likely would have taken a disaster of Matt Perisho-esque proportions to dislodge him from his inside track on a rotation spot, and of those three bullpen names, only Tateyama finds himself perched on any sort of roster bubble. Since I try not to think about Colby Lewis too terribly often these days unless I've sufficiently self-medicated myself first, I'm going to kick the topic ball along to something vastly more enjoyable -- this devastating thresher maw of a lineup that your front office lovingly constructed all those many months ago.
Before last night's game (again, before), the Rangers' offense had posted more park-adjusted runs above average during the month of September (+52.8 RAA) than any other offense in baseball had posted during any single month this season. Phrased more clearly, this month has been the absolute pinnacle of run-scoring achievement in baseball this season. That was before they plated 10 runs on 15 hits last night, five of which were of the over-the-fence variety -- two from Mike Napoli, and one apiece from Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre, giving the catcher, the outfielder, the second baseman, and the third baseman 121 home runs this season in 2,177 combined plate appearances. That's one home run for every 18 plate appearances, against an American League average of one home run for every 38 plate appearances this season.
In 40 years of Rangers baseball, Texas has clouted five or more homers in a given road game just 24 times in 3,165 total road games. Over this franchise's entire history, we have seen the five-homer road outburst in just one out of every 132 road games that the Rangers have played, on average ... and I can almost certainly promise you that the home runs hit in those other games weren't clustered in such a way that the fan base was literally jumping out of its seat hollering at the television with each successive blast. I don't get outwardly excited by baseball as much these days as I would really like to. That changed last night.
And Ian Kinsler, the newest (and only the 12th all-time) inductee into baseball's "multiple 30/30 season" club, stole the final critical base needed to lock in his own personal accomplishment. The only other infielders in major league history with multiple 30/30 seasons? Alfonso Soriano, Howard Johnson, and Jeff Bagwell.
Texas is now one good day away from being able to play host to the Red Sox or Rays late Friday afternoon, and with the Rangers' one-two rotation punch to the cage of their opponent almost certainly being C.J. Wilson and Derek Holland (both of whom boast sub-3.00 ERAs since the second week of July and strikeout-to-walk ratios in close proximity to the 3:1 mark), and with the lineup clicking in the manner that it has been clicking, and with the Feliz/Uehara/Adams component of the bullpen finally approaching the point of full synchronization ... yeah, you should be feeling good about the state of this thing, and where it could be headed next, because it could be headed a damn long way.