Can The Rangers Catch Up To The Yankees?

Your Texas Rangers won two games in their three-game series against the Detroit Tigers over the weekend, with the great Mike Olt exciting us on Sunday and Yu Darvish pitching solidly again.

And that series, of course, provided the team with a nice transition into their current series against the New York Yankees, a series in which we could possibly find out the answer to the question we've all been asking ourselves: Which team is the best of the best in the American League?

Well, the Yankees beat Texas on Monday, winning handedly and stifling our offense while highlighting their own. And, last night, Hiroki Kuroda was firing missiles at the Rangers like a fighter jet, getting through six no-hit innings until finally giving up a single to Elvis Andrus in the seventh — one that he may not have gotten without that signature roadrunner speed of his. That hit didn't translate into any runs, though.

Worse, the Yanks seemed certain to pull away with indisputable bragging rights as Best Team in the A.L. after Texas' struggling reliever Alexi Ogando gave up back to back homers — a two-run bomb over the right field wall by Nick Swisher, and then 359-footer by Mark Teixeira, who had two hits against his former team. Bittersweet stuff, for sure.

As things currently stand, the Rangers trail the Bronx Bombers by two games for A.L. bragging rights. Fortunately, though, there still remain two more games in the series.

• The Rangers' hottest hitter in the last seven days is Josh Hamilton (.289), who continued his recent resurgence with 10 hits in 21 at-bats, including three home runs. His more recent blast was also the 150th in his career. With Ham going HAM of late, it seems as if the team's offense is primed to return to its unstoppable form. But with the Yankees firing on all cylinders, it'll take a huge team effort to get back to the top of the A.L.

• The AL West-leading Rangers (67-48) have not let up their chokehold on the division, leading the Oakland Athletics by six games and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by seven. After their series ends with the Yankees, Texas plays only two teams with winning records ahead of their series with the Angels in five weeks.

• The Rangers' pitching situation still begs to please, with the staff giving up 29 runs collectively over the past week and leaning on the high-powered offense a little too heavily. Scott Feldman's winning streak finally came to an end on Friday, but Yu Darvish pitched fearlessly in a 6 and 2/3 innings appearance versus Detroit. Plus, Derek Holland allowed only one run in his game against the Tigers.

Ryan Dempster has had a mercurial start with the Rangers, going cold-hot-cold with one win and two losses since being traded from Cubs. If either he or Roy Oswalt don't become consistent and soon, it could spell trouble for the Rangers down the stretch.

• Here's a fun fact: Rangers pitching star Yu Darvish started a humanitarian fund in 2007 dedicated to the construction, installation and maintenance of wells, well pumps and rainwater storage facilities in developing countries.

• The Rangers made several transactions in the past week. Texas reinstated Mark Lowe from the 15-day DL and replaced him on that list with the injured Mike Napoli. The team also recalled catcher Luis Martinez from Round Rock and assigned Robinzon Diaz and Alberto Gonzalez outright to Round Rock. Meanwhile, Texas agreed to terms with catcher Koyie Hill on a minor league contract and assigned him to, you guessed it, Round Rock. Lastly, the team re-agreed to terms with catcher Yorvit Torrealba on a minor league contract and assigned him to New Hampshire.

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