After spending what seemed like all season clinging to a one game lead over the second place Halos, the Rangers took advantage of the Angels' 2-4 week and extended their division lead to four heading into an important four game series in Anaheim.
In the past I would usually open up one of these Angels series with a fiery, pump up the fan base rant about how the Rangers are capable of walking into Anaheim and knocking the shine off the Halo, but this is different.
I frankly have already heard enough about how the Rangers have fared in Anaheim this season. After all, the Rangers have overhauled the bullpen that cost them a few of those games.
That being said the Angels always play the Rangers tough, especially at home, and despite starting two young pitchers in the first game will approach this series with the same amount of confidence they always do.
Needless to say this series should be very entertaining in a variety of ways and I highly doubt one team takes all four games.
The Rangers in a sense control their own destiny over the next four days as a good series leaves them four, six or even eight games up in the division as we reach the dog days of August.
No question the pressure is on the Angels as anything short of a series win will have no effect on the standings in the West and should the Rangers win the series the Angels will leave the ballpark Thursday night six games out and only six games left against the Rangers.
In the past the Rangers have had mixed results putting the division on ice when given the chance, something they failed to do the last time they were in Anaheim.
Could this series be different?
In a word, yes.
The Rangers have had consistent starting pitching all season long and the retooled bullpen gives the Rangers much needed balance with their high scoring offense.
That being said, the Rangers will need every bit of their pitching this series as the Angels are one of the few teams in the league with a better rotation and unlike the A's and Mariners, have the offense to give Rangers pitching fits.
The one weak spot the Angels have lies in their bullpen, an advantage the Rangers could very well take advantage of; provided the starters keep the Rangers in the game going into the later innings.
The Angels bullpen had a bad week last week and unless they turn it around this series the Rangers could find themselves with a large division lead with six weeks left in the season; just like last season.
For the record I expect all four games to be close and the two teams to split the four games, but baseball is a funny game that loves to prove prognosticators wrong on a daily basis.
One team could catch a few breaks and sweep the series or one could simply play terrible baseball giving the other a series win or sweep.
Regardless, this series should be very entertaining from the first pitch tonight to the last out on Thursday so buckle up and enjoy pennant race baseball.