Reporting Bill Jones
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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – There’s an old saying in baseball that you can’t win a division in April, but you sure can lose one.
However, in the Rangers’ case, there’s a history here that says the month of June can become this team’s albatross.
A dozen times in the past twenty seasons the Rangers have started the month of June in 1st place in the American League West. However, in only four of those seasons have the Rangers won the division. And, in those four years (96, 98,99, and 11), the team only had a combined June record of 59-55.
2010 was the only season where the Rangers weren’t in 1st place to start June and went on to win the West. That year they took advantage of an incredibly easy June schedule to go 21-6, including an 11-game win streak at one point.
In 2012, the Rangers were quite good in June, going 19-9, but lost a 6 ½ game lead to the A’s the second half of the year to finish as a wild card team.
But, it’s those numerous June swoons the past two decades that should concern Rangers fans right now. The current team lost 11 of its first 15 games this month, including six in a row at home. They fell from 1st place and lost six games in the standings to Oakland during that span.
Notable Rangers June Swoons:
This is just a word of warning. It is not to say that things are slipping away from this team as we sit here in mid-June.
Case in point: 1998. The Rangers had a miserable stretch in June that season, losing a 5 ½ game lead and falling 3 ½ games off the pace by the end of the month. Doug Melvin saved the season by making a couple of draft deadline trades to acquire SP Todd Stottlemyre, 3B Todd Zeile, and SS Royce Clayton, and the team won the division.
However, the current state of the Rangers starting rotation this year reminds me of 2000. That year, the rotation in June consisted of Kenny Rogers, Rick Helling, Esteban Loaiza and two unproven youngsters, Ryan Glynn and Matt Perisho. The team was coming off back-to-back division title seasons and had lost power hitter Juan Gonzalez from those teams.
This year, due to injuries, this team is trotting out two rookies in its rotation, Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch. Things have not gone well for either of late. The team has also lost its middle of the order slugger from the past few years in Josh Hamilton.
In 2000, the Rangers cratered in June after losing rookie phenom Ruben Mateo to a gruesome broken leg on June 5. They went 10-15 in June and just 44-66 the final four months of the season.
Not saying anything of that sort is going to happen this year. This team is hoping to get rotation reinforcements back at some point this summer (Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, and Matt Harrison). Furthermore, this organization is deep enough to be able to acquire more firepower through trades.
For now, the Rangers just need to survive the month of June. The current rotation has zero wins in the first 16 games of this month, and they’ve got the A’s, Cardinals, Yankees, and Reds still left to play. Those teams are a combined 53 games over .500.
June swoons are an ugly reminder of what can happen when you don’t have enough starting pitching depth to overcome the inevitable offensive slumps that plague every team at one point or another.
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