As late as July 2nd the Rangers held a share of the lead in the NL West, but then things went drastically wrong and they dropped out of contention. During that month of July the Rangers would go 10-20 and by August 1st they found themselves 10 games out. Losing streaks of 8 and 5 games respectively will always harm your pennant chances. To their credit the Rangers did not give up. They went 15-2 from September 15th on and finished a respectable 5 games out, but the pennant race (for them) was over two months earlier.
Texas posted above average offensive numbers. The team was 4th in homers and #1 in walks. Rent a player Bobby Bonds led the team with 29 clouts. DH Richie Zisk added 22. Three other players had double figures. Newly acquired left fielder Al Oliver led the team with a .324 average. The bench was light and was led by a trio of .220 hitters, Kurt Bevacqua, John Lowenstein and Bobby Thompson.
The pitching staff was led by newly acquired co-aces, Jon Matlack (15-13, 2.27) and Fergie Jenkins (18-8, 3.04). Number 3 man Doyle Alexander had a hard luck 9-10, 3.86 record. The pen was shaky, which would explain why Alexander had a tough time posting a winning record. Matlack (18) and Jenkins (16) closed games out with regularity, while Alexander put his fate in the hands of the pen. Reggie Cleveland (5-7, 3.09, 12sv) was the team's closer. Steve Comer (11-5, 2.30) let a lot of inherited runners score then benefited from the offense handing him a comeback win. This was a top heavy staff that definitely needed a solid lefty out of the pen and a more prime time closer.
I added 20 new cards to round out the Rangers 1978 set.
Sample singled on his first major league pitch in 1978, made the Topps All Rookie Team in 1979, had his longest hitting streak (19 games) in 1981, was fifth in the A.L. in steals (44 of 52) in 1983, sixth in power-speed numbers and was the tenth toughest to strike out in the league, with only teammate Buddy Bell having hit more home runs of the preceding nine. Sample finished with a career .272 average. He hit a whopping .467 in just 15 at bats during the 78 season. A career 4th outfielder/platoon player, who actually did very well when given full time status. Sample played 7 of his 9 seasons in Arlington. He hung them up after hitting .285 in Atlanta in 1986 and moved into the broadcasting booth where he is acknowledged as one of the most respected broadcasters in baseball. I found this autographed photo on ebay.
was the 1971 Sporting News National League Rookie of the Year, while with the Cardinals. On April 18, 1978 the Rangers purchased his contract from Boston and inserted him into the closer role out of the pen. He would notch 12 saves with a 3.09 ERA for the balance of the season. At the conclusion of the season he was dealt to Milwaukee. This is his 1978 Burger King Update card.