The Texas Rangers sit atop the AL West standings with a 40-27 record which is the second best start in franchise history to the 1996 team. Not only are they in first place they also lead the American League in team batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits and total bases. The pitching staff (dealing with a host of injuries) ranks third in ERA, fifth in fewest runs allowed, first in WHIP, fourth in strikeouts and second in walks. In their last ten games the Rangers have went 7-3. Despite all of the above information they are considered by several writers and analysts to not be better than the Los Angeles Angels.
I'm not going to discount the Angels. They may have started off horribly going 15-21 before firing hitting coach (and martyr) Mickey Hatcher. That was May 15th. Since then the Angels have gone 21-10 which is tops in baseball in that timeframe. The Rangers, in that time, have gone 17-13 after starting 23-14. In that time the Rangers lost Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara and seen a roster shuffle that has moved Scott Feldman to the starting rotation, the promotions of Justin Grimm, Michael Kirkman, Tanner Scheppers and Yoshinori Tateyama (who has since been sent back down) along with an offense that went stagnant for a while. But in the last ten games the offensive spark has returned and Justin Grimm (in his major league debut) tossed a great game and got the win on Saturday.
So where are the Rangers headed? Roy Oswalt will be called up soon, maybe even this weekend and Derek Holland will be the first of the injured pitchers to return. The starters (minus Scott Feldman) have thrown magnificently recently which has helped save the bullpen and the offense is clicking. The Rangers also have the benefit of playing their next six games against the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, two of the worst teams in the National League while the Angels, who are hitting .089 with runners in scoring position in their last seven games, play their next six against the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yes it is only June 18th but it would still be nice to see Texas put a little more cushion into their four game lead over the Angels and these next six games could prove to be valuable if things go the way they should. Still, though, it's an exciting pennant race and I can't wait for it to heat up in August.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, the founder of clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.
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