Turning Up The Heat: Rangers Fall From First

John SmithContributor IJuly 12, 2009

PHOENIX - JUNE 23:   Ian Kinsler #5 and Elvis Andrus #1 of the Texas Rangers looks on from the dugout during the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 23, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Rangers 8-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It's about that time again. Mid-July in Texas. With temperatures around the 100 degree mark everyday in Arlington, it's impossible to ignore how the Texas Rangers' performance is already slowing down, as it seems to do perenially in the second half of the season.  Is it just coincidince, or is the heat really what kills the Rangers?

Statistics indicate that the answer is no. The Rangers are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and loses have been primarily on the road as of late. The pitching hasn't been terrible, and injuries haven't been much of a factor. While stats may reveal a lot, they are also very prone to telling lies.

The Rangers went 6-3 on their last home stretch, and have since gone 3-4 on their trip to the West Coast to face division rivals Seattle and Anaheim. But take a look beyond the numbers. Texas just returned from six games in California 6/19-6/25, and are welcomed warmly with 95-plus degree temperatures at home. They were able to play through it and go 6-3, but then earn a return trip to the West Coast, which equals a major lack of sleep.

In their most recent series with the Seattle Mariners, they lost three out of four games to a Mariners team they were previously 5-0 against. Texas is now 1.5 games back in the AL West to a red hot Angels team. On a good note, Josh Hamilton is back, but it is so painfully ironic how just as he returns, other hitters fall into a slump. It is obvious.  The Rangers are just plain tired. 

The only good coming from Ian Kinsler not making the All-Star team is that maybe he can catch his breath and get his bat back on track. In fact, all the Rangers need to take full advantage of this short upcoming break, because if they don't get after it right after the All-Star Game, then they will be able to say goodbye to the top of the standings by the trade deadline.

In the end, it comes to the fact that players can play through fatigue, but only for so long. Teams can only avoid injuries for so long. Overachieving pitching staffs can only overachieve for so long. Face it, the Rangers are headed straight into a brick wall at the speed of a Nolan Ryan fastball.

So while the heat wave may not have hit full force, all signs indicate that Rangers fans will face another second-half slump and watch their team fall from contention yet again. So close, but yet so far. Maybe next year Rangers' fans.