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Elvis a crucial component of resurgence

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- A few weeks ago, it looked as though the Rangers' season was teetering on the brink of collapse. They had dropped six of nine games of a homestand, and Yu Darvish had just been shipped to Los Angeles at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But they went .500 on a six-game road trip, then took five of six games from the Astros and Tigers to open the current homestand. All of a sudden, an American League Wild Card berth is right there in their sights.

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ARLINGTON -- A few weeks ago, it looked as though the Rangers' season was teetering on the brink of collapse. They had dropped six of nine games of a homestand, and Yu Darvish had just been shipped to Los Angeles at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But they went .500 on a six-game road trip, then took five of six games from the Astros and Tigers to open the current homestand. All of a sudden, an American League Wild Card berth is right there in their sights.

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"Any time you win a baseball game, it's easier to come to the ballpark. It's easier to get up in the morning and lay your head down at night," manager Jeff Banister said. "This stretch, I would say, has probably been the stretch where we played complete baseball."

Finding one person to cite as the key to the turnaround is tough, but it just might be the player who has reinvented himself more than any other this season: shortstop Elvis Andrus.

Andrus is in the middle of the largest power surge of his career. Entering Friday's series opener againnst the White Sox, he's already doubled his previous career high in homers, with 16, and his 52 extra-base hits have eclipsed his previous high of 46. In August so far, he has a Major League-high nine doubles, and his 11 extra-base hits this month are fourth most in the AL.

His .397 batting average in August is the fifth highest in the AL, and that's surpassed by his .415 average over just the previous 13 games. Other teams are starting to respect his bat more.

"I don't think they're playing deeper, but they're taking notice," Banister said. "I think you've got to take notice, and if they have, good for us. Good for him. ... He's been right in the middle of [everything], kind of 'the guy' all year long. Early on he was the guy in the late innings coming up with the big hit for us and kept it afloat."

Andrus, of course, doesn't take credit, and he doesn't have to. The Rangers have gotten great performances from their pitching as well as the offense, and they feel like this is the first time all season -- outside perhaps their hot streak in May, when they won 10 in a row -- they're getting consistent contribution from every facet.

"It's amazing. It's a lot of wins, and that's what we're doing right now," Andrus said. "We understand as a team that we weren't where we wanted to be. For two weeks it was either good offense, good pitching or good defense or in the bullpen. It was a lot of up and downs the whole season, but right now I think everything's kind of clicking from all sides. Right now is the best time to do it, and hopefully we can stay that way."

Rangers beat

• After sweeping Detroit, the Rangers won back-to-back series to kick off the 10-game homestand after going 0-3-2 in the previous five series. Seven of their 16 series wins this season have been sweeps.

• The 12 runs the Rangers scored on Monday were their second most this season, behind the 14 they scored against the Twins on April 26. They collected 28 runs in the series against Detroit, tied for the most in a three-game set this season.

Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas.

Texas Rangers, Elvis Andrus