Two key match ups will unfold this week and, for me at least, it’s important to view the week with cautious optimism. In sports, anything can happen and the Rangers will do their best to be on the right side of “anything” at the end of this next series.
The Rangers, who have been able to handle the Rays the last two post seasons, have only played Tampa three times in 2012, but do have a 1-2 record so far. Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, who were on the receiving end of the two losses to Tampa in April, will be key in keeping the Rangers machine going. Yu Darvish will also get his first go against the Rays as well, and will have a chance to leave his own mark on this series. These three young men have what it takes to keep their control and keep their team in the game, especially Harrison, who carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against the Twins. Again, anything can happen, but things appear to be in order for a good yet rewarding series against Tampa. So, why be cautious when it seems very possible to at least take the series? Oakland vs. Cleveland.
The A’s have gone 4-2 against Cleveland this season so far, and have most recently swept the Indians. One of the two loses was a 4-3 game where the A’s where simply not able to get more than three runs off of nine hits; but, since then, the Swingin’ A’s have found ways to score and get walk off wins. The A’s will not simply lay down for the Indians, as much as Ranger nation would love to extend the lead over Oakland. That’s why I feel this week will be important for protecting the division lead. If things get close at the end of the week, the pressure will be on the Rangers to really deliver against the West in the last sixteen games of the season.
To close, I want to reflect on something I said in conversation with a friend regarding the team’s good start to August and it’s implications.
He had asked if either or both of our two closest rivals would fall off before September 1. I made the prediction that one would most likely be in a big hole, if not almost completely dead, by that date. Right now, it appears that the Angels are trying to figure out how to get back into the upper portion of the wild card race and a possibly revamped Red Sox club may help further bury them with their series this week. No one is dead, but one team could end up very close to having the door close on them and the other could have enough space gained to breath down the Rangers’ necks. Here’s hoping the faith and patience invested into the club by the coaches, owners and fans will keep paying off as the stretch continues towards September play.