We've heard a lot about the struggling Rangers for the last couple of weeks.
The offense hasn't been producing at a high enough level, pitchers are getting injured often enough to make you wonder if this is a nursing home team rather than a professional one and the dominance of the first two months have disappeared as a result. In purely statistical terms, it is hard to argue with this assessment since the Rangers have lost six of their last 14 games.
In the larger context, though, it is hard to find too much alarming about what's going on with the team. That feeling started while watching Matt Harrison and company shut out the Diamondbacks 1-0 on Wednesday night. It would have been nice to put a few more runs on the board, to be sure, but it's hard to get too upset about a shutout.
It's especially hard to get upset about a shutout when it is the third time in the last five games that the Rangers shut out their opponents. Runs like that are always special, but they have an added importance when they come at a moment when the rotation is down three members from Opening Day (Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz are on the disabled list, Yu Darvish is on the rest him a little extra so that he's not awful again list) and the team is having a hard time winning games.
Stretches like this, and the 3-7 one that preceded it, serve as reminders that there's a lot of time for twists and turns over a 162-game schedule. All of those snapshots of the season don't matter at all until everything is done and you know the team's overall record.
Right now, the Rangers' record is 37-26. That's better than their record at this point in either 2010 or 2011, two seasons that featured a good bit less angst about the state of the team than we're hearing this year.
The Rangers are also 3.5 games up on the Angels, a bigger lead than in either of the last two seasons and still something that's been used as an indictment of their play. Back in March, you heard plenty of people talking about how difficult life in the AL West was going to be thanks to the Angels' strong offseason. Now that it has come to fruition, it is suddenly the fault of the Rangers?
Everyone got carried away by the hot start to the season. That's natural, but it shouldn't have led to an overall change in expectations for the season or unrealistic notions about the rhythms of a baseball season.
There's room for improvement, but, as The Who's been trying to tell us for years, the kids are alright.