Newberg: 3.0

cole hamels texas rangers

Some of you have asked why I haven’t started up with the Magic Number countdown.

I suppose it’s because of the way this season has gone.  It’s been an incredible six-month battle, starting with the news that Yu Darvish would be lost for the season and leading to a second straight year in which the Rangers have lost  by far  the most games to the disabled list of all 30 teams, highlighted by four months missed by the number two starter and three-plus by the number three starter, perhaps not surprisingly feeding the worst April in club history, plus a miserable gut-kick first half on both offense and defense by the $130 million right fielder and the $120 million shortstop, a closer who quickly lost his job and his roster spot in May, leading to a stretch during which he and the sophomore second baseman were sharing a Round Rock Express uniform because they weren’t getting the job done at the higher level.

The fact that Texas sits today where it is, a week and a half from 162+, makes it tough for me — at least this year — to be thinking about countdowns.  This year has been just an awesome sports climb, and my eye is still on Houston, where the Rangers and Astros will tee it up for three after a Thursday afternoon on which Texas will spend one final day in Oakland and the Astros will play golf.

The Astros will never admit it, and they shouldn’t, but I bet there are folks in that uniform worried about how soon those next tee times might be.

There’s no way Houston expected before the season to be in a pennant race once the calendar turned to fall.  You don’t schedule a golf tournament on a September 24 off-day if you dreamed every pitch would still matter.

But there’s also no way, in April or mid-May or late July, that the Rangers could have expected Friday and Saturday and Sunday to have this much riding on it, either.

Last year, on this date, I was writing about a search for a new manager and a new Class A affiliate.

This is more fun.

Cole Hamels has a chance to bump the Rangers’ lead over Houston to 3.5 games this afternoon, as Texas looks to sweep the A’s, and now it occurs to me that I haven’t even mentioned last night’s tremendous win.

So, hey, a list:

10:  Texas runs last night, on the strength of three big innings

9:  Rangers with base hits in the 10-3 win

8:  The resulting Magic Number, I’m told

7:  The staggering number of games Houston has lost to Texas in the standings in September alone (plummeting from a four-game lead to a three-game deficit)

6:  Colby Lewis’s workmanlike warrior-beast innings last night (he went 3-0, 1.64 in five starts against Oakland this year, holding the A’s to a .153/.215/.225 slash line), giving him 196.0 frames for the year (as Eric Nadel pointed out on the radio broadcast, when Lewis logs 200 innings, Texas goes to the World Series)

4:  The inning

3:  The lead in the West, which is really the only number I care about now

2:  The Rangers’ run differential for the season, finally a positive number; compare the Astros’ +93, which I suppose they can celebrate if they want, but going 9-29 in one-run games (including a shocking 0-8 in September) will throw the significance of those run-diff totals off

1:  It’s Cole Hamels Day

Yeah, I know, I left “5” out.  I guess I could have thrown in the measly number of times Rangers hitters went down on strikes last night, or the number of times the club came up with runners in scoring position (getting base hits in four of them), or a reminder of how many years Texas controls Sam Dyson after this one.

The truth is I skipped “5” because, at least at this moment in baseball time, I’m just not very good at countdowns.

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This contribution was provided by Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report. The Newberg Report provides daily coverage of the Texas Rangers.