What's up with the Rangers' offense?

A day dawns that Orioles fans have waited 15 years for. Your Baltimore Orioles are back in the playoffs.

As I've said a few times now, I am so happy for all O's fans, but especially the very large number of you that stuck with the team through every loss, every negative article, every negative phone call on the talks shows and everything that was negative, negative, negative.

Take those days and trash them.

This is a new day and time of Orioles baseball. I hope every one takes time today and tonight to soak it in and realize how truly special today is. Have a blast O's fans!

Now a question about tonight's opponent: Is the vaunted Texas Rangers offense not performing on all cylinders right now? The stat sheet says that is true and the Orioles can only hope that continues for one more game.

The Rangers this season led all of Major League Baseball with 808 runs scored. They rank second in total bases and slugging, third in extra-base hits and fifth in homers.

The Rangers led the majors with 18 games this year in which they scored 10 runs or more. The Orioles know all about that because three came against them.

But since Sept. 1, Texas is batting .251 as team, down from .273 on the year. They have scored 4.3 runs per game since then, down from 4.98 for the season.

In that last series against Oakland, Texas hit just .215 as a team with nine runs scored. The Rangers have batted .217 with runners in scoring position over their last 11 games.

These are all interesting stats, but again, who knows how it all plays out tonight in a one-and-done scenario. Will Joe Saunders' off-speed assortment play well for the Birds against the Rangers? We're going to find out.

Texas is a little better club on the stat sheet against lefties. The Rangers are batting .285 with a slugging percentage of .446 and an OPS of .793 against southpaws. Those numbers are .269/.446/.775 versus right-handed pitching.

A few Rangers' bats have cooled recently:
* Josh Hamilton is batting .229 (8-for-35) over his last eight games.
* Ian Kinsler is batting .199 his past 33 games.
* David Murphy is hitting .167 (5-for-30) his last nine games.
* Elvis Andrus is batting .216 over his last 29 games.

Here are a couple other notes on the Rangers:

* Texas was alone in first place for 176 consecutive days from April 9 through Tuesday before they were tied by Oakland and then passed by the A's on the season's final day Wednesday.

* Texas is one of four clubs returning to the playoffs from last year, along with St. Louis, Detroit and the New York Yankees. The Rangers and Yankees are the only clubs to make the postseason the past three years. This is the Rangers' sixth postseason appearance and the first time they have made it three years in a row.

* Former Oriole Koji Uehara has pitched 11 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over his last 14 games. Koji has retired 35 of the last 38 batters he's faced.

* The Rangers went 50-31 at home this year and went 18-5-3 in 26 home series. The Orioles went 1-2 at Arlington Aug. 20-22 when they lost 5-1, won 5-3 and lost 12-3.

* In the seven games against the Rangers this year, the Orioles' starters were in order: Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen (they won), Tommy Hunter, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman (they won) and Hunter.

Coming today: Plenty of coverage here on MASNsports.com and MASN. Tonight an expanded hour-long edition of "O's Xtra" will air beginning at 7 p.m. on MASN HD before the game broadcast on TBS. After the game, at approximately 11:30 p.m., an expanded hour-long postgame edition of "O's Xtra" will air.

Roch Kubatko is in Arlington, Texas, with every news and note on the Orioles live from the ballpark. Later tonight, I will be in our MASNsports.com Web studio in the warehouse for special coverage we have planned with plenty of interaction with O's fans.

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