You wake up on August 24, and a 19-4 run has you 3.5 games up in the division, lagging the 8.5-game lead you had in 2010 and the 6.0-game lead in 2012, but matching 2011’s 3.5-game advantage in what was the Rangers’ last World Series season.
You wake up today, August 24, feeling much better with Yu Darvish slated to take that 3.5-game cushion to the hill than you did the last time Texas was leading the division by the same amount, following a deflating May 26 loss in which Texas took an 11th-inning lead in Seattle, only to see the club surrender it on Joe Nathan's first pitch in the bottom of that frame (Raul Ibanez homer) and lose the game when Michael Kirkman and Ross Wolf couldn’t keep the Mariners from scoring in the 13th.
The next day, May 27, Martin Perez (making his 2013 big league debut) and Darvish got the starts in a doubleheader sweep in Arizona. Perez gave up three runs in the first two innings and Texas didn’t score until the ninth, falling 5-3. Darvish was sailing along in Game Two until Didi Gregorius homered with a man on in the eighth to tie the game, and Arizona went on to walk off against Jason Frasor and Robbie Ross in the ninth and sweep the twinbill.
May 27 was a long time ago. Perez, not yet a trusted piece, was optioned back to Round Rock after the Diamondbacks doubleheader. Ian Kinsler was in the early stages of a month-long disabled list stint that I barely remember. A.J. Pierzynski had just returned from his own DL stint. Derek Lowe’s Rangers career had just ended, a journeyman named Neal Cotts had just been purchased from AAA, and Wolf (who?), younger on the staff than only Nathan, Frasor, and Cotts, was purchased from AA. Lance Berkman was an everyday player — with an OBP hovering around .400.
You wake up this morning, and your team is 9.5 games ahead of where it was just 25 days ago (6.0 games back to 3.5 games up), which dwarfs the 5.5 games that Oakland made up in the brutal final 25 days of the 2012 season.
It’s August 24, and if you have a few minutes to surf around a bit you might land on an article about Oakland blowing four of its last five save chances (and a closer look might have you wondering if the crazy workload that set-up weapons Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle have had the last two seasons might not be catching up to them), or you might read this unbelievable schadenfreude-laden CBS Sports article and this one too, each about what’s been going on behind the scenes the last couple years with the Angels, who on this date were 9.0 games back in 2010, 3.5 games back in 2011, 8.5 games back in 2012, and 18.5 games back today.
But this is no time to dwell on the A’s skid or the Angels’ festering dysfunction. Texas is 17-4 and Oakland is 8-12 since the Adam Rosales DFA train got rolling, and who knows, maybe Rosales gets his second straight start tonight, behind Darvish, as the Rangers face their third left-handed starter in a row, in a stretch that will extend to five straight.
Magic seasons tend to have Ross Wolf and Adam Rosales contributions here and there — Neal Cotts is on a different level altogether — and here we sit, 80 percent into another 162, and in spite of all the major injuries and The Suspension and issues with the offense and the baserunning breakdowns, the Texas Rangers have the best record in the American League.
It’s August 24. Happy Birthday to Jon Daniels.
Happy Baseball Day to the rest of us.