ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Hamilton says he and his teammates have not yet fondly looked back on the crazy night of Aug. 1. But if the regular season ends as the standings are now, or thereabout, surely the Texas Rangers will happily look back on their 11-10 comeback win in 10 innings over the Los Angeles Angels.
Had the Angels first protected a 7-1 lead and then held onto a 10-7 lead in the 10th, they would have won a third straight game against the Rangers and moved within two games with one more to play in Arlington. Instead, the Rangers rallied for the win and 48 hours later had padded their AL West margin to six games.
Less than three weeks later, as the Rangers prepare to open a 10-game homestand, Texas remarkably sits nine games in front of the idle Angels.
"That's unbelievable," Josh Hamilton said. "But guess what? St. Louis was out last year with like a month ago."
Fair point regarding the reigning World Series champs.
Hamilton said the team hasn't looked back on that game, probably because they aren't sleeping on the Angels, who after a torrid June and July have gone 5-13 in August. And that other AL West team, the scrappy Oakland A's, are just five out heading into Monday's games.
"It's amazing. Baseball and life are so similar, aren't they? You know, how quickly things can change; in a blink of an eye, I guess you can say," Hamilton said. "We really have not hit on all cylinders. I think you ask anybody, we haven't done all three (hit, pitch, field) at the same time on a consistent basis for a period of time really, at all this year. Maybe the beginning for a brief time, but that was it.
"So, I'm praying that it's going to click at the right time."
The Rangers are 11-7 in August after their June and July swoon. The A's are 9-8 in August and hanging tough when no one believed they could or would.
It's not even Labor Day, so declaring a division over is probably premature. You won't find Hamilton or the Rangers even touching that subject. After all, they've still got six September head-to-head matchups with the Angels and A's.
"No, because it could flip-flop," Hamilton said of hot and cold streaks reversing field. "It could. I don't put anything past the game of baseball. What Wash (Rangers manager Ron Washington) says is so great: It's not the best team that wins, it's the team that plays the best that night. So that's the game summed up. "
Napoli working his way back: Mike Napoli ran on the treadmill Monday for a second straight day and said his strained quad felt fine. He's taking it slow and doing light work on it.
"I don't want to rush it," Napoli said. "I want to let it heal and come back as strong as I can."
Napoli, who's hitting .223 and hasn't played since Aug. 10, doesn't have any kind of timetable for his return, but wants to just keep progressing. He took batting practice with the team on Monday and has been swinging in the cages. He's also working out, but is using light weights and motion with his quad area.
Where's Oswalt?: Roy Oswalt will get a few more days off after allowing one run in 4 2/3 innings Saturday in his first start since July 30. Washington said Oswalt will get some rest and then return to the bullpen.
Bench boost?: Washington said he's going to try to ride out a three-man bench a little longer, possibly to the Sept. 1 call-up when rosters expand to 40, because he doesn't want to move somebody from the bullpen at the moment. With Ryan Dempster's return Monday, Leonys Martin was sent back down to Triple-A Round Rock. The Rangers won't have to make a move with the bullpen until reliever Koji Uehera makes his return. Uehera has been out since June 15 with a right lat strain.
Harrison to keep pushing: Washington said lefty Matt Harrison is going to continue to pitch every five days. His next start is scheduled for Friday against the Twins and then he's also slated to pitch the homestand finale against the Rays on Aug. 29. The Rangers get an off day on the 30th, which, Washington said, will afford the team's most consistent starter an extra day of rest. With tonight's starter Ryan Dempster having been scratched from Saturday's game in Toronto and Roy Oswalt making a spot start, the other starters were afforded an extra day off.
"After the off day he'll get a sixth (day) and after the off day on the (Sept.) 10th, he'll get another day," Washington said.
Colby cleared: Right-hander Colby Lewis, whose season ended prematurely due to an elbow injury that required surgery, was cleared to begin therapy on Monday.