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The dog days of summer

Things are getting a bit tense right now

Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The last week has been a bit...distressing, as a Rangers fan. To say the least.

Exactly one week ago this morning, the Rangers were riding a 12-2 streak to start August, were up 3.5 games on Houston in the American League West, and had the opportunity to sweep the Los Angeles Angels in a three game set at home.

Today? Today, we are looking at a Rangers team that has lost six in a row, has seen its offense largely go AWOL, and that is clinging to a half game lead in the West over Houston, with Seattle just a game back of Texas.

In a summer where we have been suffering from a record heat wave, the Rangers are also really making us sweat.

Something I’ve said more than once on here is that, when your team is winning, it feels like they’ll never lose again, and when they are losing, it feels like there will never be another win. During the winning streak, if Texas got down early, it could be shrugged off...this team has come back plenty of times before, no reason to think they won’t again. If Texas gets down early now, in the midst of this losing streak, there’s a sense of fatalism, a sense of inevitability.

Texas isn’t as good as they looked in winning 12 of 14 to start the month, and aren’t as bad as they’ve looked the past six games. The offense is in a slump, and could use a fully healthy Josh Jung and Jonah Heim right now. It is also not going to continue to average fewer than three runs a game, as it has in this streak. The pitching is having issues, but Nathan Eovaldi will be back soon, which will help.

Texas sits at 72-54 on the year. A .500 record the rest of the way would mean 90 wins, which we would have gladly taken at the beginning of the year, and which would seem mildly disappointing at this point. And if the Rangers finish a couple of games out in the division — or, worse yet, a game or two back in the Wild Card — we’ll look at the record in one run games (currently 9-17), look at the underperforming compared to run differential (Texas’s expected record currently is 80-46), and look for an outlet for our frustration and rage.

Early on the year, when Texas got off to its great start, we wondered whether this would be 2009 or 2010. The 2009 Rangers got off to a strong start, spent most of two months — from early May to early July — in first place, then faded down the stretch. What sticks in my mind about that season was the Rangers scoring 1 run in a five game stretch in mid-September, which pretty much eliminated them from the Wild Card race.

The Rangers are still in first place as of now, in late August, and ever since April 9, when they beat the Chicago Cubs 8-2, they’ve had at least a share of first place. So this isn’t the 2009 Texas Rangers. But it isn’t the 2010 Texas Rangers, either, a team that faced middling intra-divisional competition and turned the final six weeks of the season into a victory lap.

The Rangers are in a playoff race. They have been terrific this season. This is what it is all supposed to be about.

And I’m tense. I’m stressed. I’m at the point where I’m relieved about the off day today, because I can’t deal with the anxiety of another game right this moment.

This is what we have been wanting from this team for a long time now — a serious playoff contender playing meaningful games late in the season.

I had forgotten what that feels like.