Starting to wobble.

On the morning of September 8, 1972:  27.5 games back

1973:  33.5 games back
1974:  6.5 games back
1975:  17.5 games back
1976:  16.0 games back
1977:  8.0 games back
1978:  8.0 games back
1979:  8.5 games back
1980:  18.5 games back
1981:  3.5 games back
1982:  23.0 games back
1983:  15.0 games back
1984:  9.5 games back
1985:  27.0 games back
1986:  7.5 games back
1987:  9.0 games back
1988:  26.0 games back
1989:  13.5 games back
1990:  16.5 games back
1991:  11.0 games back
1992:  14.5 games back
1993:  5.0 games back
1994:  season ended a month earlier due to players’ strike, with Texas 0.5 games up; post-season was canceled
1995:  7.0 games back
1996:  7.0 games up
1997:  12.0 games back
1998:  3.0 games back
1999:  8.5 games up
2000:  14.0 games back
2001:  36.0 games back, with Alex Rodriguez
2002:  24.0 games back, with Alex Rodriguez
2003:  20.0 games back, with Alex Rodriguez
2004:  5.5 games back
2005:  9.0 games back
2006:  9.0 games back
2007:  17.5 games back
2008:  17.0 games back
2009:  5.5 games back
2010:  7.0 games up
2011:  2.5 games up
2012:  4.5 games up
2013:  1.5 games back

It could be better.  But it could be a lot worse.

I’m not sure if last night was the season’s most important game, but it might have been the most poorly played, and the Rangers, winners of only two of their last eight, find themselves in their third-worst run of a season that’s been remarkably streaky, all while Oakland has ripped off 10 wins in 13 games to move from 2.5 games down to 1.5 games up.

On the subject of streaks, while Texas has its rotation as stable now as it’s been all year, at least in terms of health and the roll call, there’s this:

Yu Darvish through August 17:  12-5, 2.64.

In four starts since then: 0-2, 4.50.

Derek Holland through August 16:  9-6, 2.95.

In three starts since then: 0-2, 5.51.

Matt Garza through August 13:  8-2, 3.23 (including 2-1, 3.38 with Texas).

In five starts since then: 1-2, 5.13.

In spite of a wicked rash of starting pitcher injuries in 2013, the rotation has been very consistent and very good, carrying the club when the offense couldn’t.

Suddenly, though, it’s Martin Perez (6-0, 2.54 in seven starts since July 31) who has been the Rangers’ most dependable starter at the most important time of the season.

Twenty-two-year-old rookie Martin Perez.

The Dallas Cowboys play one-sixteenth of their schedule tonight.  The Rangers have two-sixteenths of their schedule left.  I don’t know what to expect from the football team, and nothing would surprise me — my expectations are low.

My expectations are very high for the baseball team, in spite of this stretch of ugly ball, lots of which has come against teams that aren’t very good.

This is a club that, just a month ago, was in the midst of a stretch of extraordinary baseball that included 17 wins in 21 games, and 22 of 28.

Texas (probably) doesn’t need to go 17-4 over these final 21 regular season games to win the West and avoid a win-or-go-home Game 163.  But with only three match-ups left against Oakland, there’s a lot of separate business that’s going to need to be taken care of, and with the 2013 season entering the final half of its fourth quarter, it’s time for this club to lock in and go on a new run.

It’s time for this very good baseball team to play good baseball again.

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