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The Dog Days of Summer, Rangers Style

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When your team is going well, you feel like they're never going to lose another game.

And when your team is going poorly, you feel like they're never going to win another game.  Especially when it is late August, the weather is hot, the team has played 22 games in 23 days, and the players look like they are out of gas.

Texas has lost 4 of their last 5 games and 5 of their last 7, while the second place Anaheim Angels have won 6 in a row, starting with a walk-off 2-1 win against Texas.  

And watching the last several games, the team looks worse than just that streak suggests.  Pitchers are struggling, bats are slow, no one other than Mike Napoli seems capable of getting a big hit.  The team's last three losses were by scores of 10-0, 11-5, and 13-2, and the 11-5 loss felt worse than just a six run defeat.

It seems like this is a turning point, that the Rangers are letting the A.L. West slip through their fingers, while the Angels are playing great ball, getting strong pitching, and taking advantage of a weak schedule that will allow them to dash past the Rangers and go down as a team that's made one of the best comebacks of all time.

Could that happen?  Yeah, sure.  Anything's possible.

But even now, is it likely?

The Rangers are a better team than the Angels.  They're 2.5 games up in the A.L. West.  Baseball Prospectus still gives the Rangers an 85.2% chance of winning the division.  Cool Standings has the Rangers at 75.5%.  

The Rangers are still the favorites here.  I will stipulate that, if the Angels keep winning every game, the Rangers aren't going to make the playoffs.  And if the Rangers keep playing like they have over the past week or so, they're going to have a real hard time holding off Anaheim.

But every season has ebbs and flows.  The 2010 team got swept at home by a putrid Baltimore team heading into the All Star Break.  The 1996 team looked like it was going to cough up one of the biggest division leads of all time.  

But things worked out.

If Texas wins tonight against Boston -- and the oddsmakers have the Rangers as pretty heavy favorites -- then Texas is back to 3 up on Anaheim heading into the weekend series.  Even a loss today would put the Rangers in a position where they'd be 3 up after Sunday if they can take two of three from the Angels this weekend.

Last year was a unique experience, with Texas coming seemingly out of nowhere and running off with the division title.

It looked like we had a chance of a repeat of that this year, but the struggles of the last week have kept Texas from maintaining their big lead.

But its a marathon, not a sprint.  The Rangers aren't as bad as they've looked the last few games, and the Angels aren't as good as they've looked the past week.

Keep the faith, be patient, and let's see where things stand Sunday night.