BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas took two of three from the Angels this weekend, adding another game to their lead over the Halos in the West. Los Angeles arrived on a decent roll having won seven of their previous 10 games to give the sense that their awful 2012 start was turning around. They had their pitching rotation lined up to throw two of their three top starters at Texas.

Actually, winning one game out of three on the road against a quality opponent, especially early in the season is a reasonable success. However, the Angels abysmal start put the pressure on to do more that would make a statement in this series.

Texas as it turned out made the statement. It wasn’t so much that the Rangers won two, but it was how they won the pair of games. They simply over-powered Los Angeles scoring double digit run totals in both wins. When the season began, Los Angeles had the better starting rotation on paper between the two teams. In this series, top Angel starters Jered Weaver and C. J. Wilson combined to throw 9-1/3rd innings and allowed 14 earned runs, a 13.50 ERA.

Josh Hamilton completed one of the most astounding weeks anyone has ever had. He hit .484 with nine home runs and 17 RBIs. Those home run and RBI totals would be good for a month, and he did it in seven games. He banged three of those round trippers against the Angels.

When the season began, the two weak links in the Rangers’ pitching rotation were considered to be the newbies – Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz. Both of course have a world of talent, but neither had ever started a big league game. Texas believed in them so much that they moved two former All-Stars out of the rotation to make room for them – letting C. J. Wilson go in free agency and moving Alexi Ogando to the bullpen. Darvish and Feliz were expected to be good, if not great starters some day. The question was when?

This weekend went a long way toward providing the answer. They were the winning pitchers in the games Texas wins over the Angels. Their combined record is now 8-2 on the season, and they have the two lowest ERAs among the five starters.

Orel HErshiser said flatly in the ESPN booth televising Sunday’s game that the Rangers are the best team in baseball and that no one else is even close. That’s a great compliment any time, but the honor the Rangers really want is to get that compliment after the World Series.

COCKTAIL CONVERSATION: After hitting four home runs in Baltimore last Tuesday, the Hall of Fame requested some items from Josh Hamilton. He generally complied, but drew the line at sending the bat. He kept it for four more home runs until it finally broke Saturday. The bat is now on the way to Cooperstown.

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