The last time the Angels were within 3.5 games of Texas was 50 days ago.
Right after that, Texas continued on a hot streak that would roll for another week. The Los Angeles hot streak didn’t come around until this past week and a half.
But overall, since that day 50 days ago, the Rangers have won four more than they’ve lost, and so have the Angels, and here were are again, back at 3.5.
Last night was brutal. Just brutal. The umpiring shouldn’t have mattered. It mattered because of the way Texas played the game.
But I look back on what I wrote that day, 50 days ago, because reader Pelham Swift suggested last night that I should. It helped. I needed it.
April 14, 2012
There will be stretches this year when the Rangers struggle to execute. They'll drop the ball, they'll leave runners on base, they'll get too much of the plate, they'll run into outs.
There just will be. And when those things happen, every columnist and talk show host and weatherman in town will quote Wash and Merle Haggard, and some will conclude, in the throes of a frustrating run of baseball, that it's just not going to happen in 2012 like it did in 2010 and 2011.
And that might be true. Or might not. Overreacting to bad baseball is easy.
And so is overreacting to great baseball. The opposition being what it's been, 6-2 could be a little deceiving.
Some of you will want to email me (like a handful already have) and suggest this team should be 8-0. Before you do that, admit to yourself that it could also very, very easily be 5-3. Maybe worse.
The point is that sometime in May or August or even during this Minnesota-Boston-Detroit trip or when the Yankees and Jays come to town, the pitching and defense and baserunning and Ian Kinsler and Matt Harrison will stop being this consistently extraordinary.
And when that happens, we'll be able to look back on 6-2, and on that good-looking 3.5 that jumps out from among all the numbers plotted out on the standings page, and recognize that while it's just an eight-game stretch in early April, eight games in April count the same as eight games in September, and if your reality check includes the Rangers' strength of schedule, take a look at who the Angels have played so far.
Appreciate this while it lasts, no matter how long it lasts. They all count, and those games-back numbers in the far right column are very young but you can bet the club on the negative side of that 3.5 understands that it's very real.
Texas, in spite of this four-game skid, one that’s included four very ugly losses, has the American League’s best record and baseball’s healthiest run differential, by a lot.
It still does.
And that’s because of how this club started this season.
We obviously all feel like it’s sort of time to be that team again, but the truth is that, because of the way the Rangers got out of the gate, and the way the Angels did themselves, all Texas really needs to do is be the team it’s been the last 50 days.
The Rangers have had an eight-game win streak and now a four-game losing streak this year.
The Angels have had an eight-game win streak and a five-game losing streak.
Take those stretches away, and the Rangers are better. Two very good teams. One that’s better.
The Angels made their impact trade a month ago. Texas will make its in a month and a half.
Or maybe not. It will still be OK.
The Draft is tomorrow, but the next step in this gripping race between rivals is this afternoon, and it would be all right with me if, before Round One gets underway, Matt Harrison helps the Rangers get on a new streak and helps the Angels get on a new one as well, as we hit the one-third mark of another season of Appointment Baseball, a season in which everything will be just fine if, on October 3, the Angels are three or four games back just like they were on April 14, and just like they are today.