With one All-Star back in the lineup and another shoulda-been All-Star on the mound, the Texas Rangers began their crucial three-game series in Anaheim last night by promptly taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
The next time there was good news for Josh Hamilton, Kevin Millwood and the Rangers - courtesy of an Ian Kinsler homer in the 7th - they trailed 9-2.
Sometimes an All-Star snub motivates a player to a spectacular performance in his next game. Sometimes the return of a star pushes a team to spirited success.
But sometimes, you just get your ass kicked, 9-4.
Still, a pretty damn snappy first half of the season for the Rangers. Right?
The Rangers reached the 81-game point last night only one game out of first in the AL West. They survived the 30-game absence of Hamilton, going 15-15. Don't look now, but we're playing meaningful baseball into mid-July for the first time since 2005.
If the second half is anything - or exactly - like the first half, the 90-win Rangers will be sniffing the division title into September. And ...
*Kinsler will hit 20 homers and drive in 106 runs. In other words, he'll be Ryne Sandberg.
*Michael Young will reach 200 hits. Again.
*Chris Davis will strikeout a Major League-record 228 times.
*Scott Feldman will go 14-4.
*Elvis Andrus will have the same number of errors and extra-base hits - 24.
*Cowboys season will start a little later this Fall.
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