There is no hangover effect from being so agonizingly close to winning it all.
The Rangers (15-4) entered Thursday’s off day with the best record in the majors. The two-time defending American League champions have won their first six series in a season for the first time in franchise history. They lead the majors in hitting, with a .295 average and 31 home runs, and have one of the top pitching staffs as well.
“It tells you that they’ve put the World Series behind them and they’re dealing with this season, and they feel like that they’re as good as any team in baseball,” team president Nolan Ryan said. “And I think they want to prove that.”
Only six months ago, the Rangers were twice within a strike of a World Series-clinching victory before losing Game 6 in extra innings at St. Louis. They jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 7 before losing that game as well.
“Yeah, it hurt at the time. Of course it did,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “But it has no bearing on the games we’re playing now. We all love to compete and we want to win as many games as possible.”
At their current pace, they would win 128 games this season.
While it’s highly unlikely they will reach that total, the fast start reinforces what the Rangers consistently said throughout the off-season and during spring training. They are focused on 2012 and trying to get to the World Series again, not what happened last October.
Texas already leads Oakland and Seattle by 5½ games in the AL West. The Los Angeles Angels, one of the preseason favorites, are off to a rough start and are nine back.