After a middling start, the Rangers put together two four-game winning streaks at the end of the month and were at least tied for the AL West lead for 19 days, including a half-game lead entering May. Their dominance of the Astros began with a three-game sweep in Arlington but they followed that by getting swept at the Chicago White Sox.
After losing three of four in Toronto to start the month, the Rangers went 16-7 the rest of May, including a three-game sweep at Detroit and two series wins at home against the White Sox and Blue Jays. After getting swept in Oakland, they swept the Astros in Houston, and Yu Darvish returned to the rotation just in time for a 28-9 stretch without consecutive losses from May 20 through June 28 that solidified their hold on the division. Colby Lewis was 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in May.
The Rangers had winning streaks of five, seven and four games in winning seven consecutive series. In the middle of the month, they went 8-2 on a 10-game road trip through Oakland, Seattle and St. Louis, including a sweep of the Cardinals. By June 22, the Rangers had built a 10-game lead in the division and were 21 games over .500 (47-26). But the schedule caught up with them as they made two 10-game road trips before the All-Star break. They played 20 of their last 30 games before the break on the road, with time zone changes during both trips.
After perhaps the most exciting game of the season — a 9-6 win at Yankee Stadium that started on June 27 but finished on June 28 after a 3 hour, 35 minute rain delay — the Rangers hit a rough patch. Injuries to Darvish, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland thinned the rotation. After winning the first two in New York, they dropped nine of their next 12 leading into the All-Star break. Two of their three season-high four-game losing streaks came in July.
Things didn’t get much better after the break as a nine-game road trip provided a nice bookend to the pre-break grind. Texas lost six of its first seven after the break, including a three-game sweep by the Angels in Los Angeles. Prince Fielder went 0 for 4, reaching on an infield error in his last at-bat July 18 in Los Angeles. He headed back to Texas to have his neck examined, which resulted in a career-ending surgery. They snapped out of it by the close of the month, in part by roughing up the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, taking two of three in Kansas City before closing the month with a four-game sweep of the Royals in Arlington.
The trade-deadline acquisitions of Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Beltran and Jeremy Jeffress started to pay off quickly. The addition of Beltran was especially fortuitous after right fielder Shin-Soo Choo was sidelined with a fractured left forearm. Another sobering moment came when Fielder held an emotional press conference to announce he could no longer play the game of baseball. Along with his sons, a teary-eyed Fielder addressed the media with the entire Rangers roster, coaching staff and front office in attendance.
The Rangers won six of their first nine and finished the month with a seven-game winning streak that bled into September. The division lead on the Astros dropped to 5 1/2 games on Aug. 23, but after taking three of four from the Indians and a three-game sweep of the Mariners, the Rangers pushed it back up to 8 1/2 games.
With their magic number dwindling and a playoff spot nearly wrapped up, the Rangers took their foot off the pedal down the stretch. They lost three of four in Seattle to let their lead drop to 8 1/2 games, but it never got lower than that. They clinched the AL West with a 3-0 win at Oakland behind a Cole Hamels gem. They clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason after securing the best record in the AL on Sept. 30 — behind a 12-strikeout performance by Yu Darvish in a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.