The last time Unfair Park mentioned that the Rangers were looking a little too competitive, the team proceeded to lose 14 of 20, so we decided we should speak up again.
Under the temporary -- for now at least -- leadership of Tim Bogar, the Rangers have won 9 of their last 10 games. They've risen out of last place in MLB and given DFW its best baseball story of the year, Guilder Rodriguez's 13-years-in-the-making major league coming out party.
It's been the brightest stretch of a dismal season. The Rangers, seemingly nailed to the bottom of the standings less than two weeks ago, now have a record that's a game and a half better than the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This has got to stop. There is no glory in finishing 29th. Nor is there the first pick in next June's draft, the first waiver priority all winter and spring or the increased international free agent budget that comes with the worst record. Finishing with only the second-worst record means the third pick in the draft -- the Astros are guaranteed the second pick because of their failure to sign 2014's first overall pick, Brady Aiken, to a contract -- the second slot on the waiver wire and less international cash.
Like the 2014 Rangers, the 2014 Diamondbacks are atrocious. The "highlight" of the Arizona club's season thus far is Randell Delgado's think-piece inspiring beaning of Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen. They are doing their damnedest to claim the cellar. The Rangers must match their effort over their last five games, anything better than 1-4 just won't do.
Here's a look at what the two teams face down the stretch:
Texas Rangers (64-93)
The Rangers face the team that perfected proper tanking strategy over the previous four seasons, the Astros, before closing the year out with four games against the A's. Unfortunately for the Rangers, all four games basically amount to dead rubber for the teams involved. Like the Rangers, the Astros aren't going anywhere -- at least this year -- while the A's have essentially locked up one of the American League's two wild card berths. Houston and Oakland have no reason to expend much effort, so it seems likely that all five games will basically be coin flips. The Rangers' horrific luck this year bodes well, Tim Bogar's charmed post-Ron Washington existence does not. Neither does the outstanding September of Saturday's starting pitcher, Derrick Holland.
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Arizona Diamondbacks (63-95)
After two games with the Twins, the Diamondbacks finish the season with a three-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals mood will be heavily dependent on the state of their race with the Pirates. The Cards lead the Bucs by 1.5 games in the National League Central. If the Cardinals put the Pirates away before Friday, neither St. Louis or Arizona will have an incentive to win over the weekend, if not the Cardinals will be giving their best -- good for the Diamondbacks, bad for the Rangers.
It should be noted that, were the teams to finish tied, the Diamondbacks would get all the benefits of finishing last, as the tiebreaker would be the teams' 2013 records.
Here's to one last week of misery.