Week ahead: Cleveland, Seattle
The Texas Rangers returned home from a 10-game road trip (they went 6-4) and face the Cleveland Indians and the Seattle Mariners in a six-game homestand. Here are some things to keep an eye on:
* Oakland A's. That may sound odd, but at this point, how can you not be scoreboard watching? I still think with their tough September schedule that they can't keep this up, yet you look at the standings today and they are 3 1/2 games back. Amazing. What matters to them -- and the Rangers -- is whether they're in a position to make things interesting Sept. 24, when the two teams meet in Arlington for the first of seven games in the final 10 contests of the season.
* Matt Harrison. He got a few extra days off to rest so that he could be ready to charge down the stretch. Because of that, he starts this series with Cleveland on Tuesday. After struggling in his last two starts, how will he look? The Rangers need the consistent Harrison that has been there all year to emerge again. Pay close attention to how he starts Tuesday.
* Jurickson Profar. You can't deny the guy's excitement. Josh Hamilton referred to him as a spark the other day and it looks like he is just that. Whether that translates to more playing time remains to be seen, but he's going to get some chances. When he does, he's worth watching.
* Elvis Andrus. He's always hit Cleveland pitching well, but has struggled in his last seven games (hitting below .200). We'll see if playing the Indians again gets him going.
* Bullpen. It's been solid all season for the Rangers and now manager Ron Washington has more arms at his disposal. Washington, Mike Maddux and Andy Hawkins are making sure they give the key arms -- Mike Adams, Joe Nathan, Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross -- rest. Ross is on the DL and getting his rest built-in now. But when possible, Adams and Nathan are getting breaks too. Those guys could be the key to a postseason run.
* Adrian Beltre. The guy continues to pound the ball. He went from having a great August to starting September with a bang, too. He had five homers and eight RBIs on the road trip.
* Beating the teams you should. This is a homestand that the Rangers should take advantage of this week. Cleveland has struggled all sesaon and doesn't match up with Texas. Seattle has played well this second half, but it's a series the Rangers should win. Good teams win the series they are supposed to at home. It's September. The Rangers need to get it done.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.
Play Podcast Nelson Cruz joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Rangers' series in Oakland, his ups and downs at the plate and if the PED talks before the season were a distraction.