Despite losing three of four to the last place Oakland A’s, the Texas Rangers are a confident bunch as they invade enemy territory to take on the California Angels (still too ridiculous to type the other way Halos).
Even though the Angels are playing close to .800 ball since the All-Star break, the Rangers have kept pace and go into the weekend showdown 4.5 games back.
A sweep from either team is unlikely, so the Rangers will probably either be 3.5 or 5.5 back, depending on who wins the series.
It’s been suggested from those in Southern California that this time will be different than the other three series outcomes because this Angels team is different than the one the Rangers have taken seven of nine from this season.
That may be true, but this isn’t the same Rangers team from the past few seasons either. They’re done rebuilding, and they’re done playing second to the Halos.
The face of the franchise, Michael Young, has helped the Rangers navigate through the season’s ups and downs with a steady state of emotion. It helps that Young has been here before only to fall short in a magical 2004 season.
Young’s done playing second to the Angels.
Hank Blalock has been through injury riddled seasons since 2004, but now he’s healthy and swinging the bat like "The Hammer" of old.
Blalock’s done playing second to the Angels.
Josh Hamilton told TR Sullivan of MLB.com, "When we play the Angels, we take it to a whole [different] level."
Hamilton’s done playing second to the Angels.
The difference with this Rangers team begins and ends with confidence thanks to improved pitching and defense and a clear light at the end of their rebuilding tunnel.
The Rangers used a three game series against the Halos in early July to rebound in the standings and reassert themselves as contenders in the West.
With another opportunity to do the same this weekend, the Rangers are ready to once again prove they are not a first half team in 2009.
First pitch from Joe Saunders is at 10:05 EST tonight from "The Big A" in Anaheim. Will the Rangers thrust themselves back into the race for the West?
We’ll find out this weekend, but for now…