They’ve won with sturdy work from the starter and lockdown relief and timely hits.
They’ve won with dominating starting pitching and the home run bats.
They’ve won in impossible fashion, overcoming a nightmare out of the gate with an offense that’s never out of it behind a starter who didn’t get rattled and didn’t get chased.
They’ve won, 1-0.
Behind their fifth starter.
They’ve won methodically, outpitching and outhitting and outfielding and outbaserunning the opponent.
They’ve won by supporting another dominating start with elite defense and station-to-station offense.
They’ve won with big contributions from the next-to-last man on the bench and the last man in the bullpen, and by jumping all over the opponent’s bullpen.
They’ve won with late-inning heroics that, the way this team is playing baseball, almost felt like business as usual.
The old adage – “they can beat you in all sorts of ways” – is playing out a week and half into the 2012 season.
It all adds up to 8-2 as Texas kicks back for its first off-day of the season. The Rangers have the best record in the American League, sport the best team ERA in the league (2.30) by more than half a run, and have put 4.5 games of separation between themselves and the club that “may be the first team ever to have too many good players.”
The only team in baseball further out in its division than the Angels is San Diego.
The Texas rotation is 6-0, 2.42 while the vaunted Los Angeles rotation sits at 3-4, 5.23, but that may be no more surprising than the fact that the Angels are hitting .263/.315/.409 . . . while the Rangers are hitting .267/.309/.469.
Yes, the Angels lineup will heat up at some point.
But the Texas bats haven’t really gotten going, either.
The standings could begin to look a lot different as soon as this week, as the Angels host the A’s and Orioles while Texas visits Boston and Detroit. Texas then comes home to the Yankees and Rays, as Los Angeles travels to Tampa and Cleveland.
After that, Texas spends a week and a half on the road while the Angels play seven of 10 at home, leading up to a huge May 11-13 showdown between the two clubs in Arlington.
It’s very, very early, and story lines will change dramatically, in ways we can’t yet visualize. There’s 94 percent of the season left to be played. Los Angeles could still win the West by five games.
But it’s harder to do that when you have to make up an extra 4.5 games just to even things back up.
And that’s exactly the challenge the Angels are faced with, due to a combination of sputtering work on the mound, from both the rotation and the pen, and due also to a decisively strong and balanced charge out of the gate from the Rangers, who have yet to be beaten soundly, who have more hitters who can and should get better than those playing out of their minds, who are finding different ways to win all the time, and who have me a little cheesed off this morning at the fact that there’s not another game to be played tonight.