So for the first time in almost two months, the Rangers aren't in first place. This day seemed inevitable, because...well, because, that's what happens in playoff races. Teams are in first place, then they often drop into second, and then they oftentimes go back into first. It happens.
There has seemed to be a mentality, though, among Rangers fans that once the Rangers fall out of first, that's it...it is over. Of course, among some, there has been a mentality that this day was inevitable, that this team just isn't good enough to stay in first and thus the Rangers were going to fall out of first before too long anyway. But beyond that, there seems to be almost an attitude that if the Rangers fell out of first place, that was it...the Angels are the better team, and if they could manage to pass the Rangers at some point this season, the Rangers weren't going to be able to get first place back.
I don't think that's a given, but obviously, this coming series against Anaheim is pretty big. If Texas loses today and gets swept by Anaheim, they could be 4.5 games back in the middle of next week. Taking two of three or sweeping Anaheim, though, should get the Rangers back in first. And this is a team that's gotten basically nothing from Josh Hamilton this season, or from Chris Davis, or from their catchers...this is not a team that is playing over its head so far, particularly offensively.
Anthony Andro writes that Derek Holland had a strange start, allowing 13 hits while striking out 8, only the third time this decade that a pitcher has allowed at least 13 hits while striking out at least 8.
Holland getting back on track is particularly key with Matt Harrison going on the disabled list. Tommy Hunter is making today's start in place of Harrison, and I'm guessing he'll be sent down after the game, with Greg Golson being called up to get the Rangers back to 13 position players. With an off-day on Thursday, the Rangers are skipping the 5th starter spot next time around, and then a decision will have to be made as to who is going to fill that role in Harrison's absence. My guess is that Jason Jennings will step into the rotation, although if Dustin Nippert continues to make progress in his rehab stints, he could possibly be an option.
Gil LeBreton says that the Rangers are leaking, and there's no easy solution for what is ailing them. LeBreton hits in particular on the offense, which has been bad all month, but also points out the main problem with any quick fix:
Trading for Washington Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson — a bad idea, by the way — isn’t going to solve this.
Nor is any one move that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels or club president Nolan Ryan could be contemplating.
Jean-Jacques Taylor offers his baseball wisdom this morning, as well. He says there's no reason to worry about the offense. Why?
We can talk about the Rangers' pitiful offensive performance this month – they delivered another putrid effort against the Padres – but history says the Rangers will eventually hit and score runs.
So there you go. Taylor says that this team's problem is that the starting pitching isn't good enough.
Evan Grant has some notes up, which includes Hank Blalock saying he thinks he is still an everyday player, and updates on Josh Hamilton and German Duran. Duran, Grant says, had to be put on release waivers because a player cannot be outrighted if he's on the minor league disabled list.