ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were disappointed not to finish off a sweep of the Astros on Sunday, but taking two of three from the team with the best record in the American League was a good step in the right direction for a club harboring Wild Card hopes.More is needed
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were disappointed not to finish off a sweep of the Astros on Sunday, but taking two of three from the team with the best record in the American League was a good step in the right direction for a club harboring Wild Card hopes.
More is needed after a 2-1 loss to the Astros on Sunday afternoon. Winning two of three from the Astros marked the first time the Rangers have won a series since sweeping three from the Rays on July 21-23 in St. Petersburg.
The series wins must come far more frequently than that if the Rangers are to keep up with the other eight teams in the convoluted AL Wild Card race. The Rangers are just 3 1/2 games behind the Angels for the second Wild Card spot even though they are now four games under .500.
"I know we need to win baseball games, stack them together, win series," manager Jeff Banister said. "That's the motivation. That's the direction, but it's about winning game by game."
Third baseman Adrian Beltre said the Rangers are getting over their non-waiver Trade Deadline disappointment. The Rangers did not add at the Trade Deadline and they did not address their identified need in the bullpen.
Instead the Rangers traded catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Rockies and reliever Jeremy Jeffress to the Brewers. But the big one was trading pitcher Yu Darvish to the Dodgers, a move that seemed to outwardly signal the Rangers' resignation to their fate.
Beltre said that was not the case in the clubhouse.
"I think we were a little disappointed trading one of the best pitchers in the last five years," Beltre said. "But in the clubhouse we didn't think we were out of it. It was a little gloomy but we had a little talk. Even though we traded Lucroy and J.J. and Darvish, we still have a team that can compete. We have to do our jobs but we still believe.
"We don't have our ace but we have to play with more emotion and play better. We still have a long ways to go but we still have the mentality of winning. In this clubhouse, we are still grinding and believe we can get back in this."
The Rangers are still 11-15 in their last 26 games, and that post All-Star break slide was one impetus for the Darvish trade. But the Rangers have also won six of their last 10 and now they have seven games against the Tigers and White Sox remaining on this homestand.
The Rangers haven't won more than three in a row since a five-game winning streak from June 9-13. Those five wins were against the Nationals and Astros. Extended winning streaks separate clubs late in the season.
"We have played better in the last five or six games but we still haven't gotten really hot," Beltre said. "It's time to get hot, see what happens and create some chances. We have a legitimate shot but we can't talk about the teams in front of us. We need to take care of business in this clubhouse, and whatever happens in the end, happens."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.