143846527 Rangers Hit Rough Patch, But Is It Time To Panic?

CLEVELAND, OH – MAY 4: Second baseman Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers can’t get to a ground ball hit by Jack Hannahan (not shown) #9 of the Cleveland Indians during the seventh inning at Progressive Field on May 4, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) Below is a sports blog from CBS 11 producer Tom Duerr:

Time to Panic?

First, let’s all take a step back from the panic button.

The Rangers have lost six of their last nine games, their last three series and hit a patch where they lost three in a row for the first time since last season. It might seem like it would be a good time to panic. Right? I mean that’s what I’m hearing coming from way too many Rangers fans right now.

The reality of it is, the Rangers have come back down to reality. Yes, their start, much like last year’s, was very strong; but it was unrealistic. They were geting superb starting pitching, their bullpen was as close to perfect as you can get (with a few excpetions) and runs were traveling down the third base line as if it were the Dallas North Tollway.

The Rangers are 18-10. 18-10! That’s good enough for first place in the AL West and they’re just a game or two off the pace in all of Major League Baseball. Overall, the pitching has been solid and the offense has been there when we’ve needed it.

If I had told you that the Rangers would start the season 18-10 and be one of the best teams in baseball through the first month, I’m pretty sure each and every person reading this would take that. Would we love the Rangers to have gone 162-0? Yes! Is/was that possible? No!

I sit here now and guarantee you that the Rangers will once again win the AL West, and make it into the playoffs. After that, I make no guarantees.

We Knew it Would Happen…

It was bound to happen at some point, even though all of us were enjoying seeing Albert Pujols blanked night after night, at-bat after at-bat. However, King Albert finally found his homerun stroke today.

Pujols took a two-ball, two-strike pitch deep to left field and into the Angels bullpen. He finally did it on a slider left over the plate.

Does this mean Pujols has found what’s been missing all season long? I don’t think so. But I do think this will spark him to become a better player for the Angels.

Thinking he was bottoming out in Anaheim was great, and seeing it happen through the first month of the season was even better. It was unrealistic. Pujols will be a major factor in how well the Los Angeles, California Angels of Anaheim in Orange County will do this season. And I think his first true test of if he can handle the pressure of this race will come next weekend at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

If you didn’t catch the reaction Pujols’ teammates had to his first homer, it’s classic — give it a look.

“Ignite Your Natitude”

As someone who used to live and work in Washington, DC when the Nationals were horrible, it’s great to see them doing so well.

This is a young and talented team that’s getting some great starting pitching, timely hitting and solid work out of the bullpen. The Nats lead the majors with five walk-off wins this season and are playing some very exciting baseball. Some of their young stars are leading the way — and every baseball fan needs to get used to hearing the names Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez. They will be around for a while.

If you have a chance to check them out, do it! They’re playing Philadelphia on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN tonight and if they are the free game of the day on MLB.com, they’re worth a watch for any baseball fan.