As resistant as I am to the idea that a May stretch can be any more pivotal than any other seven-game run over the course of a season, this one feels huge. The guys in the lineup who should be hitting are hitting, the rotation has thrown five straight quality starts, the defenders are making the plays they should, the bullpen is relatively rested. Each cylinder is clicking.

The Rangers head to New York for three and then host the Angels for four. Texas is winless in six tries against those two clubs this season.

Take things one game at a time, and all that. But man, if we can overcome the Yankee Strike Zone and go up there and win a couple — maybe we’ll find the Yankees a little Rocket-drunk and thinking not about the opponent that they swept a week earlier but instead about Roger Clemens, the way the Mavericks were thinking about the Suns and Spurs — and then come back and take three of four from Los Angeles, then this year, even if it shouldn’t based on seven games in the season’s first quarter, starts to feel a lot different.

Kameron Loe yesterday: 6.2 innings, one run on three hits and one walk, career-high six strikeouts, including all three faceoffs with Vernon Wells. It was the kind of pitching line that Loe put up regularly in his breakout 2003 season with Clinton and Stockton. Legit.

As for Clemens, Texas won’t face him in the 2007 regular season unless he retires and signs with Houston or Boston in time for the Rangers’ late-June series with those clubs.

Oklahoma righthander Ezequiel Astacio (0.00 ERA in 15.2 relief innings, five hits, two walks, 20 strikeouts) is moving into the RedHawks rotation.

The Rangers released lefthander Matt Merricks, who had been on Frisco’s disabled list. The former Braves prospect, signed in November, never appeared for the RoughRiders.

Righthander Kelvin Jimenez debuted last week for St. Louis. He’s pitched three times in relief. Outfielder Ryan Ludwick is up with the Cardinals, too.

The Mets designated righthander Chan Ho Park for assignment.

Philadelphia recalled lefthander Fabio Castro from AAA. Tampa Bay released outfielder Jason Grabowski, the Yankees released lefthander Erick Burke, and Toronto righthander Matt Roney was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a “drug of abuse.”

Pittsburgh promoted catcher Einar Diaz from High A to AAA.

Indie moves: Shortstop Jose Morban signed with the Somerset Patriots (Atlantic). Outfielder Adam Bourassa signed with the St. Paul Saints (American). Righthander Ruben Feliciano signed with the Grays (Can-Am). The St. Joe Blacksnakes (American) released outfielder Cody Nowlin.

There’s easily five times more attention being paid this season to the Rangers minor league system, both in the local papers (and their blogs) and in various fan sites. Love to see that.

But it’s all backdrop material right now. Over the next week, the only real story is whether Texas can stamp out the memory of a miserable April and get back in this thing. This is as excited as I’ve been about Rangers baseball since the season began.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at

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