ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Take one look at a Major League Baseball schedule and it is easy to see why baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. Teams play 162 games over 6 months.
Scoreboard watching becomes much more entertaining, or nerve wracking, after the All-Star break. However, the games count just as much in April and May, albeit with a little less pressure, than those in September.
And in July and August, when we are sitting and baking during a hot Texas summer, will Rangers fans look back on May 2nd as a day that the momentum shifted in the A.L. West race?
The Texas Rangers’ meteoric rise to the top of the baseball world this season has been impressive. The Rangers finished the month of April with a nine-game lead.
Josh Hamilton was A.L. Player Of The Month with nine home runs, 25 RBI and a .744 slugging percentage. Yu Darvish claimed the A.L. Rookie Of the Month with four wins, a 2.18 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 5 starts.
April is in the books. It’s history. May is a new month and there’s still a lot of baseball to play.
And then there’s May 2nd. Check out the starting pitchers that day for both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.
Matt Harrison goes 3 1/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. He gives up eight earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts to raise his season ERA to 5.40. The Rangers lose 11-5. And for the first time this season, the Rangers lose two games in a row.
Now, flip over to the Angels box score. L.A. is taking on the Minnesota Twins. And for the Angels starting pitcher, Jered Weaver, the line is littered with zeroes. Weaver tossed a no-no against the Twins, striking out nine and allowing only two runners on base.
The Angels have now won three games in a row while Texas has lost three of their last four.
Is it time to panic?
Texas still has a seven-game lead over the Angels and shares the best record in baseball with Tampa Bay and that other L.A. team, the Dodgers.
The Rangers still have an A.L. best batting average at .288. That’s 12 points better than Boston. Los Angeles is the only other A.L. West team to crack the top 10. They’re 9th with a .246 batting average. Ouch. Seattle and Oakland are the worst hitting teams in the entire American League. Double ouch.
The pitching staff is the second best in the league behind the Baltimore Orioles. But one look at the rest of the league shows the A.L. West is going to be tough. Oakland is behind Texas with the third best pitching staff in the A.L. The Angels are lurking in 5th.
So, Rangers fans, enjoy the lead and the quality baseball the team in Arlington is putting on the field. They’re one of the best in baseball. But, circle May 2nd on your calendar in pencil. Later this summer, we’ll know if it’s okay to erase the circle or realize that’s the day momentum in the A.L. West moved from the top to the bottom.