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Texas Rangers' Schedule Now Gets Tough

Texas has started the season 8-2, which accomplishes two things beyond simply eight wins. The first, is it's an awesome feel-good way to start the year. The second, is it gives them padding.

Padding they need, because things are about to get rough.

After a day off, Texas travels to play a two game set in Boston, and then immediately pick up a four game ALCS rematch in Detroit. Immediately after finishing that series, they come home to play the Yankees, before finally getting a day off.

Then they host the Rays.

So, in a 13 day span, the Rangers will play 12 games against the three other AL playoff teams from 2011, and the team that was eliminated on the last day. When forecast systems, fans, and writers projected the best handful of teams in baseball, these four teams were almost always placed in that group.

And immediately after handling the Rays, they will head to Toronto. The Blue Jays don't look to be in the same class as the other four teams here, but it's a road series against a team typically projected to be solid.

It's hard to concoct a more demanding stretch than the next 16 days look to be for the Rangers. A winning record in those 15 games should probably be considered a success. Any better, and we start thinking about just how incredible this team really is. Any worse, and we thank our stars for the hot start against inferior teams to start the year.

Fortunately, if the Rangers can manage at least eight wins in that run, they get seven on the road against the Orioles and Indians before facing the Angels for the first time on the year. If you expect another four wins there -- which might be conservative -- that's a 12-10 run. Anaheim would need to go at least 14-9 in the same period just to have a shot at overtaking the division lead with a sweep.

That's why you beat up on the bad teams.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.