Note: This week, we're running a series titled "Ranger Resolutions" as we look at some things the Texas Rangers hope to do better in 2014.
Today's resolution: Finish strong
This is the third consecutive year we've run a resolution titled "Finish Strong." You can read last year's version here (if you dare).
Obviously, it's doesn't have the same punch this year as it did last year. Then, the team was trying to put the disappointment of blowing a five-game lead with nine to play in the AL West and then losing to Baltimore in the 2012 AL wild card game. The year before, it was not being able to finish off the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6. You know the details of that one. We don't need to go into that here.
But this returns as a resolution more for the first few weeks of September than for the last. Texas, to its credit and the credit of manager Ron Washington, fought to the very end in 2013. One loss in that final week would have ended the season before Game 163. But they won seven consecutive games to force a home game the day after the regular season was supposed to end.
And yet, that was as far as the Rangers could get. David Price looked more like the Cy Young Award winner from 2012 and the Rays moved on to the wild card game while the Rangers went into the offseason earlier than expected.
It was the way most of the final month of the season went that cost the Rangers a chance to make the playoffs without having to compete in a play-in game. Texas was 5-15 the first 20 games of September. They didn't have Nelson Cruz for the final 50 games and that hurt. During the first 20 games of the final month, the Rangers hit .246 as a team. They committed 12 errors. The starting rotation had a 4.57 ERA, forcing the team to constantly play from behind. A total of 10 of the Rangers' 15 losses in that span were in one- or two-run games. They just could not win enough of the close games.
So once again, the Rangers must making finishing strong a resolution. And that doesn't mean just the last week of the season. They need to be playing their best during that final month to generate some momentum and confidence. It's something that hasn't happened the past few seasons. Will this year be different?