June Presents Tests Aplenty For Texas

The Rangers will start with a road trip to face the Yankees, Red Sox

Rangers fans, from the most bitter skeptics to the most chauvinistic backers, are likely beginning to wonder if the team actually has what it takes to stay in the race for the west for the long haul, a reasonable enough question considering that Texas has made something of a habit, in recent years, of collapsing over the second half of the year.
Beginning on Tuesday, we should get a pretty good idea where the young Rangers stack up against the best teams the American League has to offer, and then some.
Texas will open a three game set tonight in New York, before heading to Fenway for three games against the second place Red Sox.
There’s no reason, this year anyway, to think that Texas won’t be able to compete with the perennial big boys of the East, as they actually have a better record than both of these teams.
But winning in the shrines to baseball that are the new Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park never seems to get any easier for the Rangers.
Things won’t be much different returning home; Texas will play Toronto for three games who, despite a recent cold streak, have shown the capacity to play some pretty good baseball in 2009.
After Toronto, the Rangers will welcome to town the first-place Dodgers, owners of the best record in baseball, at a kind of ridiculous 35-18. That’s a .660 winning percentage; Texas, owners of the second best record in baseball, are 30-20.
Texas will only get a respite two weeks from now, when they welcome the Astros to town on June, 16. The Rangers swept the team in Houston last month.
The Rangers will head to San Francisco and Arizona after that, before returning home to host San Diego. They will end the month with a two-game set against the division rival Angels.
The second half of the month is marked by games that Texas probably should win; that is, if they are playing then the way they are playing now.
There’s no accounting for hot or cold streaks in baseball, and the old dictum of “anything can happen” is pretty much true.
For our purposes, the month will serve as something as a litmus test for a team that, despite the record, the descending ERA and the increasing fielding percentage, writers and fans wonder about aloud.
The question of whether Texas is a playoff team is becoming increasingly relevant, as the calendar turns for the third time this season.
If the team can traverse a tireless stretch of tough games to start the month, the question will likely remain as relevant, if not more so.  
And that’s already more you could say about Texas this time last year.
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