ST. PETERSBURG -- Ignored for much of the season, the Rangers were finally visited by Lady Luck at an opportune time Saturday.
Fighting to scratch out runs against a locked-in Chris Archer while trying to tread water in the American League Wild Card race, the Rangers caught a much-needed break in the sixth inning, when Mallex Smith dropped a ball in center field.
The long fly ball from Adrian Beltre kicked off Smith's glove, scoring two runs to tie the game and allowing Beltre to reach second. Archer suddenly lost control, throwing two wild pitches and letting Beltre cross with the eventual game-winning run in Texas' series-clinching 4-3 victory.
"One of those situations [that] kind of goes our way this time. We haven't had a whole lot of those," manager Jeff Banister said. "Baseball has a funny way of giving back, sometimes, what you lose. We were able to take advantage of it tonight."
The Rangers were remarkably fortunate in their division-winning 2016 campaign, posting an astounding 36-11 record in one-run games. Texas hasn't caught the same breaks this season, as they are now 9-15 in contests settled by the same margin.
Based on their run differential, the Rangers should be three games better than they are by Pythagorean Win-Loss estimation. That doesn't sound like much, but it's the difference between being above and below .500, which can be a crucial distinction in deciding whether to buy or sell at the approaching July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
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Shortstop Elvis Andrus said it was "about time" the baseball gods showed some love to the Rangers. He said he thinks the Rangers are better than their record would indicate.
"We're a contender team. We aren't in good shape, but we're still the reigning [AL] West champions," Andrus said. "That's our attitude. That has to be our attitude from now on. Whatever happened during the season is in the past. We have to keep going, keep playing hard, keep believing in ourselves, and knowing that sooner or later, everything's going to get back."
The Rangers fell on hard times coming out of the All-Star break, heading into St. Petersburg on a five-game skid. The offense dried up, including their most consistent hitter this season: Andrus was 2-for-29 to open the second half, but now has six hits and two home runs in this series to drive the lineup's production.
"Guys are going to start hitting again. We have too much talent on this team to play the way we've played," Andrus said. "Just have that confidence in ourselves and that belief in ourselves that we're going to get through. It's going to be a tough year, but we're going to find a way to get through. September and October we're going to do what we can do to be in the race."