Texas Rangers On Top In The AL West, Now The Real Work Begins

Bo ReedCorrespondent IMay 18, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 07:  Jarrod Saltalamacchia #21 of the Texas Rangers catches against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on May 7, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

What a week for your Texas Rangers. Seven game winning streak, nine games over .500 and, more importantly, a 4.5 game lead over the Halos from Southern California.

The last time the Rangers had a winning streak this good was nine straight a few years ago, except this time they're winning the close games.

This streak was about pitching and defense, which is as satisfying as a cool breeze during an afternoon game at Rangers Ballpark in August.

Unlike past Rangers teams, including the division championship teams in the late 90's, these Rangers are not only winning, but winning in ways championship teams do.

They beat the Angels with timely hitting (no homeruns in the last two games), outstanding defense, and quality starting pitching.

In other words, they beat the Angels at their own game.

A quick check of various sports blogs and Web sites displayed a distinct theme among Angels fans. One was continued anger at the plate umpire on Saturday; sorry Halos but you get tossed when you make it that obvious you're throwing at a player.

The other theme was a defiant disrespect toward the Rangers. Most simply say the Angels will finish 20 games ahead of the Rangers for a truly brilliant reason: because that's how it always is.

Nice...ignorant, but nice.

Not this year, not this team.

The Rangers have suddenly figured out how to pitch. From the veteran Kevin Millwood, to the rookie Derek Holland.

Not to mention, with guys like Neftali Feliz and perhaps Ben Sheets to be added to the Rangers staff, I just do not see this team collapsing.

In fact, the past two seasons the Rangers have played better in the dog days of summer, but terrible starts put them at the bottom of a hole they couldn't dig out of.

If that trend continues, then another team from the AL West might eclipse the 100 win mark...it would just be someone besides the Angels.

I've said it here previously and I'll say it again, there is no way the Angels are going to let this division go without a fight. That was obvious after John Lackey's second pitch on Saturday.

The Rangers are going to have to play outstanding baseball against every opponent.

There are no easy games on their schedule, no matter the opposing team's record, they can not take any game for granted.

The've surged to a small lead in the AL West and now the real work begins. They have an opportunity to pad that lead over the next few weeks before playing the Angels again.

They simply have to take it a game at a time, stay in their rotation and go to battle with whomever they play.

One day, one win at a time is how the West will be won. The Rangers are in a good position, but the Angels are not about to make this easy because of one series in May.

Great week of baseball for the Rangers, but now it's time to get to work.