The Worst Is Almost Over?

Texas' current stretch may be the toughest, statistically, that they will face all season

The atmosphere around North Texas seems to be on pins and needles waiting for that ineluctable collapse that the Rangers seem to find each year, to the dismay of fans, players and Tom Hicks alike.
With a history like that of the Rangers, it’s no large wonder why this happens and why, indeed, the collapse seems inescapable.
Texas just began a road trip by dropping two of three to New York, who, at game time Thursday, were the sole owners of the AL East division lead. They head to Boston Friday, who has since pulled even with their division rivals, with a win yday.
Fenway is never an easy place to play, ditto for Yankee Stadium, and especially when the teams who call these parks home are playing as they are now.
Returning home after the northeastern swing, Texas will play a set with the fading Blue Jays before welcoming in the Dodgers, who are currently running away with the division, despite the absence of Manny Ramirez.
Retroactive to late May, Texas will have played four of their last six series against teams with at least a portion of their respective division lead. This is a tough stretch. Texas is 4-6 thus far, and after a crushing defeat on Wednesday, some seem to think that the aforementioned collapse is looming.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t; but the good news is that Texas doesn’t necessarily have to run through this stretch unscathed to remain in good position for the second half.
After the Dodgers leave town, the worst will, in all likelihood, be over; this barring a self-inflicted collapse, of course.
As of Friday, no team that Texas plays up until the All-Star break (after the LAD series) is a division leader. They only play three series against second place teams, two of which come against division rival Los Angeles.
The other is San Francisco, who is in second place, essentially, because someone has to come after the Dodgers.
After the break, Texas will play only four teams who currently have a division lead; Boston twice, Detroit and New York.
This last Yankees series begins on Aug. 26, leaving Texas more than a month to gain any ground that they may have lost in that span.
Minnesota, currently second in the Central, is the only second place team on the schedule from that point on, except for, again, the Los Angeles Angels.
Texas will play six of their last seven series against interdivision opponents; this could be a good thing or a bad thing, and it’s almost certain that Los Angeles will make a run to some degree before the season is out.
But as it stands now, this portends a major chance for success come early October.
The Rangers are 13-3 against division rivals to date, and they have yet to lose a game to the Angels or Mariners in 2009.

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