The Texas Rangers made a statement to those in baseball and especially the American League West Division. We’re here and we’re for real. After winning three out of four games against the Anaheim Angels this weekend the Rangers shook the Angels enough for them to go pick up Dan Haren for a late post season push, but it may have been too late.
The big story in the series was the outstanding pitching performances of the Rangers starters, they gave up two earned runs and only nine hits in the first two games of this series. Cliff Lee couldn’t have picked a better time to get his first win in a Ranger uniform (8.1 IP, 2 ER, 4K’s and the win). In the second game, C.J. Wilson pitched an outstanding four hit gem and left the rest to Neftali Feliz to close it out. The biggest part of these two outings was that it gave the Rangers bullpen some time off . Tommy Hunter had a decent outing on Sunday as well. He gave up three earned runs in six and a third innings letting the rested bullpen get the rest of the job done, including a 28th save for Feliz. The only negative seemed to be Scott Feldman, who may be in danger of losing his spot in the rotation. He had a bad outing on Saturday and is winless since June 18 (3 no decisions and 3 losses) Feldman will be feeling the heat once Derek Holland is back and when Rich Harden is activated from the DL.
STILL TO EARLY -
Granted its still late July and the Rangers now have a seven game lead in the AL west on Anaheim and seven and a half game lead on Oakland, they seem to be in the drivers seat in the AL West, however they have a very crucial week ahead of them. The pesky Oakland A’s make a three game trek to Arlington mid week and then the Rangers travel to Anaheim for another big three game set with their division rival. If the Rangers can pull off two series wins it would allow them some more breathing room, if not they could make it a very close race in the AL West, something they don’t want to do. Just how big are these series you ask? Lets do some math, with potential numbers factoring in that the Angels and A’s win all other games this week.
Sweep both – Lead the Division by 10 and 10.5 games
Win Both series (2/3) – Up 8 and 8.5 games.
Lose both series (1/3) – Lead down to 6 and 6.5 games
Get swept in both – race tightens to 4 and 4.5 games.
This may be the most critical week in the year until mid September when the Rangers go on a seven game California trip that takes them to Oakland for three and Anaheim for four games, all in a row. These two weeks could make or break the Rangers this year. For a team desperate to get into the playoffs they can ill afford to have a breakdown now. It would be nice to go into that week in September with a comfortable double digit game lead instead of a pressure cooker of a one to three game lead. If the Rangers can stay healthy and get the quality starts out of their starters as expected they should be there in the end.
RANGERS ON THE FRONTIER
Rangers Pitcher, Rich Harden, is making his fourth rehab start on Monday night for Triple A Oklahoma City, where he has struggled so far (11.1 IP and an ERA OF 7.94) The Texas brass hope that Harden can get in the range of one hundred pitches and get past the sixth inning.
Derek Holland will make his probable next start on Wednesday night for Triple A Oklahoma City. This is his first Triple A appearance since the injuries on his knee and shoulder have kept him out of the lineup since May 31st. Holland will probably get another couple of Triple A starts before a return to the big club, where he should have a spot in the rotation.
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis