ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Elvis Andrus and the Texas Rangers are starting to make quite a comeback.
Their six-game winning streak is the longest in the major leagues, and they took the lead in the seventh inning or later in each of the last five games, a run that included game-ending homers on consecutive nights against different teams that capped, four-run ninth innings.
“This past week has been amazing,” said Andrus, at nine seasons the team’s longest-tenured player. “We know that we didn’t start the season the way we wanted, but there’s plenty of season ahead, and I think we’re trying to find that consistency as a team.”
Those five late rallies, all since getting home a week ago after an 11-0 win at San Diego, have gotten Texas within a game of reaching .500 for the first time this season after winning the AL West title each of the past two years.
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“We know we’re good, but sometimes teams get in ruts,” first baseman Mike Napoli said. “I knew once we got a little momentum, things started going right, things would iron out. We’re just starting to play really good baseball, and just build off of it on a daily basis.”
Texas (19-20) had a day off Monday after playing 17 days in a row and 33 of 34 since an off day at the end of the opening week. The Rangers open a three-game interleague series at home Tuesday night against Philadelphia.
“You need streaks to get back to where you need to be,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “For me, it’s winning series. That’s probably a more important portion of it, because that keeps you on the positive side in everything.”
Exactly a year ago Monday, the Rangers were 22-16 after a win over Toronto in the game that Rougned Odor punched Jose Bautista following a hard slide that ignited a benches-clearing brawl. The Rangers went on to an AL-high 95 wins last season before getting swept by the Toronto in the AL Division Series.
Texas is coming off a three-game sweep of Oakland after overcoming 4-2, seventh-inning deficits in each of the last two games. Andrus had a tying RBI double and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Nomar Mazara in a 6-4 win Sunday, a day after Andrus’ tying two-run single and Mazara’s two-run double in a 6-5 win.
That followed consecutive 5-2 wins ended by three-run homers. Joey Gallo went deep to end the series opener against the A’s after Napoli had a big blast Thursday night to beat the Padres. Napoli had also homered the inning before his game-ender.
This is the first time since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972 that the Rangers have won five straight games decided in the seventh inning or later, according to STATS. The previous major league team to accomplished the feat was the 2013 San Francisco Giants.
Even with the six-game winning streak, Texas hasn’t been able to make up a lot of ground on Houston, a big league-best 26-12 going into Monday’s game at Miami. The Rangers were 7 1/2 games back, only one game closer than when they started their streak.
But with 123 games left in the regular season, including 15 against the Astros, the Rangers aren’t getting too caught up in the standings.
“Instead of worrying about our record so much, I think we’re more worried about day-to-day process of it,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “I’m going to think about next game we play. … We don’t contemplate stuff we can’t control.”
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