But a reversal of fortunes has the two teams heading in different directions early in June.
An overall sluggish month of May saw the Rangers go 14-14 after a torrid April start of 17-6, winning every series they played. That is huge. In May, they won four series, lost four and split one. The difference? Pitching was lights out in April and lackluster in May.
As for the Angels, the story has been the reverse. The club had a horrible April, finishing with an 8-15 record. New slugger Albert Pujols was basically the invisible man. May came along and LAA played better, going 18-11.
The Angels had a nice start to June, winning a three-game series at home against Texas, closing the Rangers' lead in the American League West to 4.5 games. I've got to give LAA the credit.
Here's the list of clichés to use: they weathered the storm, took it one game at a time, kept going out and fighting, and continued to believe in themselves.
That's not to say the Rangers completely fell apart and forgot how to play. Manager Ron Washington said in April that it was great to have the beginning they had so that when things didn't go their way, they would have a little cushion. He was right.
Texas has the opportunity to increase its lead in the West when it starts a four-game series against struggling Oakland on June 4. The Athletics are 1-9 over their last 10 games. There are all kinds of different scenarios that could play out, but none would have the Rangers losing the top spot in the AL West.
The Angels, on the other hand, will host the other AL West team, the Seattle Mariners. They still have to play the games, but the Angels swept a four-game series toward the end of May in Seattle. Here's to hoping the Mariners can return the favor.
The race for the AL West could get a lot tighter over the next four days. Can the Rangers return to form and maintain or strengthen their lead, or will the Angels only be a game out by the time the final out is recorded in the A's-Rangers series finale?
Remember when I said pitching was the catalyst behind the Rangers' stagnant May? Scott Feldman, the fill-in for injured Neftali Feliz, has not pitched out of the fifth inning during any of his starts. He takes the mound June 4 to start the Oakland series. Not the pace-setter I was hoping for.
John Ingle is a graduate of the Midwestern State University Mass Communication program with an emphasis in journalism. He's been a Texas Rangers fan when he met Bump Wills and Buddy Bell when he was in elementary school in Arlington, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @inglejohn1973.
- Sports & Recreation
- Texas Rangers