With the Rangers' loss on Monday night, with stable veteran Colby Lewis on the mound, the Rangers' lead in the AL West was trimmed to 1 1/2 games over Houston and just two games over the surging Los Angeles Angels, who won their sixth straight game on Monday night.
That, just a few days after the Rangers had taken a 4 1/2-game lead over Houston with a series-opening win on Friday at Minute Maid Park. Of course, since then, the Rangers have lost three straight and the Astros have won three straight.
Now, things are getting interesting. But it's not time to panic yet.
With ace Cole Hamels taking the mound against an erratic rookie pitcher, things are looking up for Texas. And with a battered Detroit starter coming up on Wednesday, it's still fairly likely the Rangers win this series against the fading Tigers, who have already said Miguel Cabrera will only play in one of the two remaining games in the series.
The Rangers' Magic Number is 5, and each Rangers win or each Astros loss trims that number by one. The Astros finish out their season with five games on the road, where they've been absolutely terrible this year.
Basically, you have to figure the Rangers are going to win at least three more games this year, probably more. And you have to figure the Astros, who've been so terrible away from Minute Maid Park all year, aren't going to suddenly catch fire and win out. If they do, we have an issue, but it's not likely.
If Hamels can continue his streak of starts in which the Rangers have won, which currently stands at eight straight, the Rangers will be in business. On the other hand, if the Rangers lose on Tuesday night, you can go ahead and look for that panic button.