How was your holiday weekend? Hot enough for you? Boy, I don't know about you but I'm about done with summer and welcome autumn here with wide open arms because...
Ok, enough of the dumb small talk. Maybe you were a little preoccupied or were in a brisket coma or something and didn't get to see every Rangers game this weekend. In which case, you had the misfortune of waking up this morning to the news that the Rangers are now tied with the Oakland A's for first place in the AL West. Yes, I realize that being tied for first place is hardly a "bad" place to be. But it's not a great place either. And right now, it feels like a mighty uncomfortable place to be.
Now let's take a look at the schedule. The Rangers will finish out this series against the A's, then take on the Angels in Anaheim then the Pirates make their way to Arlington. And then, on September 13, the Rangers will start another series with the A's that will mark Day 1 of seventeen straight days of baseball. No more days off this regular season. That worries me.
Sure, the last three series of their regular season schedule are against the Royals, Astros and Angels but that doesn't matter. There's no room for error as far as momentum shift when there is no lead on the A's in the division. And unfortunately, the Rangers seem to be a team that needs off days more than most. A one or two game falter can become getting swept in a series and blowing the next game for your seemingly bi-polar Texas Rangers. Want a handy, recent example? Look at this weekend's series against the Twins. The Rangers dropped two of the three games and then proceeded to look anemic against the A's on Monday night.
Will Neftali Feliz's return prove to be the shot in the arm (the non-PED/deer antler powder kind) the team needs? Maybe though it seems pretty clear that 2014 is more likely to be the year his comeback story happens. Can the last gasps of what is likely Lance Berkman's final major league appearances provide something, anything really, in the way of hitting? Very doubtful. Mostly because everyone, himself included, seems to be under the impression that one overly powerful swing for the fences and the man could literally break in half.
Not to sound too cheesy but a team capable of stringing together such a dominant wins in the days immediately following the Nelson Cruz suspension is not a team that should question themselves. But there's so many shadows darting around the clubhouse. It's hard to put the lingering gut punch that was Game 6 two years ago into a shallow grave for good but it would have been a lot easier had last season not ended like it did.
Let's hope this is all the cynicism that comes with the exhaustion of a three day holiday and the Rangers have a lot more patience and confidence than they seem to be outwardly showing at the moment. No matter what, if you're a fan of scoreboard watching and games where every single pitch matters, September has a present for you.
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