By Jared Sandler | @SandlerJ

Playing Pepper (Random Rangers thoughts)

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*I was so excited for this series versus the Angels. Two teams fighting for a playoff spot and divisional rivals, to boot. A return home for Texas, including a July 4th game that was sure to have a full house (which was the case). Yet, the series, in no uncertain terms, sucked. A total nut punch.

*Yovani Gallardo has far exceeded my expectations for him and has been a gem for this rotation. With that said, don’t be surprised if the Rangers shop him before the deadline. He’s got one year remaining on his deal and the Rangers have a glut of starting pitching. They are in that buy-or-sell gray area, so you might see them play both sides. Gallardo fits on the seller side and with how he’s playing, you’d be selling very, very high.

*What were the Vegas odds prior to the season that we’d be clamoring for Delino DeShields’ return to the lineup in July? If you bought that ticket, you’re cashing in because the Rangers could really use his speed and right-handed bat.

*Man, I’m really waiting for Ryan Rua to do his thing. Was a proponent of his and think he has a future, but with a crowded outfield, he’s got to show it…

*Stop it with this whole thought that the Astros are going to tank. Fingers are crossed that they don’t hold on to win, but they aren’t tanking. That’s a very sturdy ball club.

*Gallardo set a franchise record for the lowest ERA (0.54) in a single month in Rangers history, but he didn’t win the Rangers player of the Month for June. Go figure. I voted for him.

*The Rangers have had two road trips I anticipated might turn their season around for the worse. The first was the Boston-New York-Cleveland combo platter: they went 7-2. This past one against two of baseball’s hottest teams, Toronto and Baltimore, they go 4-3. Pretty impressive.

Quote of the Week

“A hitter that slugs and a slugger that hits.”

Rangers skipper, Jeff Banister, on Prince Fielder

Stat of the Week

29.1 IP

Yovani Gallardo’s string of consecutive scoreless innings pitched

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Stock Up/Stock Down

Here’s a weekly look at performances of Rangers players

UP: Matt Harrison

Regardless of the fact that I lack the confidence that he’ll be a positive contributor to this rotation, that doesn’t change how remarkable his comeback has been. To defy a career-ending injury to the back is admirable, at a minimum, and that Harrison was announced to return this Wednesday deserves a major ovation.

DOWN: Chi Chi Gonzalez

The righty has allowed 15 R/ER in his last 13.1 innings pitched and is coming off his shortest outing of the year, lasting just 1.2 IP versus the Angels.

Good Reads

*Evan Grant on Josh Hamilton’s response to his parents watching him in person for the first time since 2008.

*T.R. Sullivan on Matt Harrison, who will make his first start in more than a year on Tuesday:

*LA Times’ Zach Helfand on Jeff Banister.

Good Listens

*Mike Bacsik and I discuss the Rangers starting rotation moving forward and what the month of July means for the squad in the way of trades.

*Rangers GM Jon Daniels joined Ben & Skin earlier in the week.

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