Texas Rangers to start the second half against not one, or two, but three first place teams in a row

The Rangers finally got a break from their relentless schedule but find themselves staring down three division leaders to open the second half of the season.
Los Angeles Angels v Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels v Texas Rangers / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages
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The break is over, and the Texas Rangers (52-39) are set to host the Cleveland Guardians for a three-game set beginning tonight at Globe Life Field. With the team limping into the All-Star break, we can all hope that they are rested up and mentally ready for the next two and a half months of baseball.

There will be no easing back into games, as the schedule yet again looks a bit ominous. The Cleveland Guardians (45-45), while only sitting at .500, are the leaders of the AL Central. They are also the same team that made a run in the playoffs last season, before ultimately falling to the New York Yankees three games to two in the AL Division Series.

This will be the first of a pair of meetings between the two clubs this year. The next time that they will play, will come on a weekend series in Cleveland in the middle of September (15th-17th). Last season the Guardians dominated the Rangers as they went 5-1 and outscored Texas 33 to 18.

Texas Rangers schedule versus the Cleveland Guardians

Date and Time

Probable Pitcher Rangers

Probable Pitcher Guardians

July 14th 7:05 CT

Jon Gray RHP 6-5, 3.29 ERA, 75 SO

Aaron Civale RHP 3-2, 2.56 ERA, 44 SO

July 15th 3:05 CT*

Andrew Heaney LHP 5-6, 4.71 ERA, 93 SO

Gavin Williams RHP 1-1, 4.01 ERA, 19 SO

July 16th 1:35 CT

Martin Perez LHP 7-3, 4.81 ERA, 60 SO

Tanner Bibee RHP 5-2, 3.34 ERA, 71 SO

* The Saturday afternoon game will be televised on both Bally Sports Southwest and FS1.

After the Guardians' series, the Rangers will host the Tampa Bay Rays 58-35 (AL East leader) for three games and then the Los Angeles Dodgers 51-38 (tied for first in the NL West) for three games. Depending on how the next week and a half goes, the Rangers could potentially be playing a fourth first place team in a row, when they travel to Houston and take on the Astros. Obviously, we don't want that to come to fruition as we want the Rangers to remain in first place in the AL West, but it is a scenario that could happen.

Jon Gray will take to the mound in the opener tonight and will look to get the Rangers back in the win column. For most of the first half of the season the Rangers were series winning machines but have found it difficult to get the job done over the last several weeks. In the last nine series, the Rangers have won only two, split a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, and lost six, which include the last three.

In order to get things rolling again, both the offense and the starting pitching (namely Martin Perez and Andrew Heaney) will have to play better. The Rangers don't have to play to the level that they were at the beginning of the season, but they can't remain where they finished the first half. Perhaps a regression to the mean was taking place over the last month or so, and the team is poised to play a more solid level of baseball moving forward.

We will find out soon enough, as the next few weeks will not only be filled with competitive games, but competition to get trades completed to bolster the current unit. The fun all starts back up tonight at 7:05 in Arlington.