Used to be the hottest thing about the Texas Rangers was Nolan Ryan's fastball and the 100-degree heat down in Arlington. Well, Ryan is on the DL, but the Rangers are hotter than ever. The Rangers' bats, that is.
Even though they lost to the Brewers last night, the Rangers still managed to plate seven runs, the 11th time in 16 games they have scored more than six. As a team, the Rangers are hitting .322 over the last 18 games.
Here is a closer look at the individuals making the most noise for Texas:
* Rafael Palmeiro: Not only does his .349 batting average lead the majors, it's the highest average of any Ranger ever this late in the season. After going hitless in back-to-back games for only the fourth time this year over the weekend, Palmeiro had two hits last night, including his 20th home run.
* Julio Franco: In his ninth major-league season, Franco is hitting better than he has in any of his previous 12 professional campaigns. He is hitting over .400 in his last 28 games, raising his average almost 40 points to .338, third in the AL. In his last 79 games, his average has improved more than 100 points.
* Juan Gonzalez: With 19 home runs already, Gonzalez has two days to become the youngest Ranger ever to hit 20. Gonzalez is 21 years, 9 months, and 28 days. Ruben Sierra was the youngest Ranger to accomplish the feat in 1987 -- at 21 years, 9 months and 30 days.
If only the Rangers' pitchers could keep up with the hitters, Texas might have a more realistic chance of keeping pace in the AL West pennant race.
Brian Bohanon (1-0, 6.10 ERA) and Jose Guzman (7-4, 3.10) battle Bob Milacki (7-6, 4.34) and Stacy Jones (0-0, 2.25) in tonight's doubleheader set to begin at 5:05 (HTS).