The Texas Rangers have always played third fiddle to the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks. You may as well consider them the little brother who never really gets noticed by their older siblings.
Enter 2010 and little brother is no longer waiting for big brother to tell him he’s doing a good job.
The Rangers disposed of the Tampa Bay Rays followed by shocking the defending champion New York Yankees in the ALCS in front of a sold out crowd at Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington. They did all that while the Cowboys and Mavericks watched, wondering why they couldn’t have that kind of success.
Although the Mavs tasted it once back in 2006 and are doing so again in 2011, the Dallas Cowboys have “lost that lovin’ feeling” since Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith decided to hang ’em up. After 16 seasons, the Cowboys had just a single playoff victory.
With the 2011 season into its third month, the Texas Rangers find themselves on top of the AL West and are playing like they were at the beginning of the season.
Of course it doesn’t hurt getting Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, their two big bats in the lineup, back from the disabled list. They were able to tread water for awhile and stay just close enough to make this kind of a run when they were back to full strength.
The only question remaining at this point is what will the Rangers do at the deadline, and will they make a move to shore up their bullpen? We have talked a lot about the potential players they could be after and what kind of a deal it might take to land said players.
At this point, with the way the Rangers are playing, they may be able to ride this team right back into the playoffs and, maybe, back into the ALCS. However, it won’t come by offense alone.
You can look at guys like Hamilton, Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young, and imagine the team scoring six or seven runs per game. They have shown all year they can put up crooked numbers night in and night out. That’s all well and good, but this team will not succeed as they did last year unless their pitching staff and bullpen remain strong.
Starters like ace C.J. Wilson, first year starter Alexi Ogando or young left hander Matt Harrison have each had big starts for this team. Wilson has shown that he can be the ace of this staff, even after Cliff Lee decided he didn’t want to come back to Texas. Lee opted instead to pitch behind All-Stars Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, making it look more like the Miami Heat than Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rangers do have lady luck on their side. The American League’s Western Division is not nearly as strong as it has been in years past. If the first few months of the season are any indication, the Rangers are a team who could go on a run and put this division in the rear view mirror by the All-Star break.
But before all that can take place, this team needs to take care of business on the field. They need to be able to beat the top team in the American League and not just make a habit of beating up on the bad ones.
For now it’s a work in progress. For the future, it’s something that still needs to be fixed.