The Rangers are starting to get into some seriously rare air.
Their 12 straight wins are two away from the franchise record and if they win on Wednesday they will become just the fifth American League team in 20 years to win 13 straight games. They have more shutouts than runs allowed since the All-Star break and they haven't lost a game to an American League team in more than a month. This is a historic run, folks, and it bodes very well for the remainder of the season.
It doesn't mean that there's nothing to worry about, however. The Rangers are a very good team, but there are still a few little details that stick out and make you think it won't be all smooth sailing until October.
Think of them as those hairs that get stuck in your collar after a haircut. They don't ruin the look or make you want to stop getting haircuts, they're just these itchy reminders that there are downsides to almost everything in life. These three things are the leftover hairs from the Rangers' transformation into the hottest team in baseball.
The Bullpen - The Rangers relief corps has been maligned often this season and most of the maligning has been with good reason. You haven't heard a peep about their shortcomings during this streak, though that has more to do with the spectacularly good starting pitching than anything the pen has done in their limited work.
Obviously, the perils of weak relief pitching matter less when your pitchers go seven or eight innings, but there is going to come a time when the rotation cools off. That means that the flaws of the pen will come back into focus unless the Rangers act to shore things up before the deadline.
On-Base Percentage - This isn't a team-wide concern, as the Rangers are third-best in the AL when it comes to getting on base. It's more of a concern in the middle of the lineup where Adrian Beltre (.311) and Nelson Cruz (.293) both lag well behind their peers. That's well-balanced by their power, of course, but it isn't hard to imagine an offensive downturn caused by the all-or-nothingness in the middle of the order skewing more toward nothing.
Alexi Ogando - It seems strange to worry about anything having to do with Ogando after Tuesday night's performance, but handling his workload down the stretch is going to play a big role in the final reckoning. Finding ways to rest him seems easy enough by slotting in Scott Feldman or Tommy Hunter for a start, but that assumes no negative results from irregular activity or fatigue from a pitcher who is going to blow past his previous workload.
The Yankees couldn't make it work with Joba Chamberlain in 2009 and other teams have struggled with relying on a player and resting him at the same team as well. The Rangers will have to tread carefully in waters that haven't been well mapped in the past.