The Grueling Road Ahead for Texas

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 29: Michael Kirkman #44 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Kansas City Royals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 29, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The 2011 Texas Rangers are sitting at 28-25 after 53 games.  The 2010 Texas Rangers were sitting at 28-25 after 53 games.  The '10 team, of course, went on an insane hot streak in June that included winning 11 in a row...so with the team getting healthy and the starting pitching looking great, the Rangers are poised to get on a hot streak now, right?

Here's the problem...the Rangers are about to start their most difficult stretch of the season over the next three weeks.  Texas plays 17 of their next 20 on the road, and their next 14 games are in a row.  We have three games at Tampa, a likely playoff team, followed by four games in Cleveland against the Indians, who have been the best team in the A.L. so far this year.  Then there are three games at home against Detroit, followed by four at Minnesota, an off day, three at the Yankees, and three at Atlanta.

Of that group, only Minnesota is a sub-.500 team, and even if the Rangers get hot and start playing well, this schedule doesn't set up well to reel off a bunch of wins in a row.  Realistically, as a Ranger fan, I think we would have to consider going .500 during this stretch to be a success.

The good news is that immediately following the three games at Atlanta is what looks to be the weakest stretch of the Rangers' schedule, as Texas gets 16 of 19 at home leading into the All Star Break.  After three apiece at home against the Astros and Mets, the Rangers travel to Houston for three games, then get the Marlins for three games, the Orioles for three games, and the A's for four.  In contrast to the lengthy road trip, only the Marlins are above .500 among the teams Texas plays in this stretch.

So buckle in, because the next three weeks are likely to be difficult for the Rangers...but if Texas is sitting within a game or two of first place three weeks from now, they'll be well-positioned to seize first place by the time the All Star festivities kick off.

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