What a difference a week makes.
Before the all-star break, despite the Rangers 7-game win streak, they couldn't separate themselves from the rival Angels in the West standings.
Since the break? The Rangers have a four-game sweep of the Mariners and the Angels dropped two to the lowly Oakland A's, the same A's team that the Rangers swept before the break and had to hear about how the sweep wasn't that impressive because of the quality of the opponent.
This three-game series with the Angels that begins Tuesday has been circled on the Rangers' calendar for quite some time. It's always been important, but now the importance shifts a bit.
Heading into the break, it was a make or break series. You either make some headway in the division, or you fall out of first place.
Now? The Rangers have no chance of losing first place to the Angels because of this series. They do, however, have a chance to increase their lead to as many as 7 games with a sweep. And after this series, the teams still play each other 10 times.
If the Rangers could pull off a sweep in California, not only would they have a nice comfortable lead in the division, they'd match their franchise record for consecutive wins with 14. They have Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson going in the series and have to face both Dan Haren and Jered Weaver. It's going to be difficult to win the series, but with the way things are going right now, it's not unlikely.