Somewhere within a 162-game season, a team is going to have hiccups and hot streaks, and play important games and in marquee series. A team will also play games and series that almost no one will care about, but every game counts the same.
The 2017 Texas Rangers know the drill.
The American League West, which they have won the past two seasons, has improved from last season, and the Rangers could find themselves in a three-team race as they attempt to three-peat.
Interleague play is against the National League East, and the Rangers’ “natural” interleague rival this season is the San Diego Padres. Naturally.
Here’s a look at the month-by-month highlights of the Rangers’ 2017 schedule.
If the Rangers want to be the best in the AL, they have to beat the reigning best, and they get a crack at the 2016 World Series runners-up in the season’s first series. The Cleveland Indians come to Globe Life Park on Monday for Opening Day, the beginning of a three-game series. Yu Darvish vs. Corey Kluber is quite an opening pitching matchup. The Rangers then hop into division play with 12 consecutive games against West foes. First up are the Oakland A’s to finish the season-opening homestand, followed by a nine-game West Coast road trip April 11-18 to Los Angeles, Seattle and Oakland. The Rangers finish the month with nine games at home April 20-30 against Kansas City, Minnesota and the Angels.
The month opens with the first series against in-state rival Houston, the team projected by many to end the Rangers’ reign in the AL West. The Rangers beat the Astros in 15 of 19 games last season. The clubs will play the first four days of the month at Minute Maid Park before the Rangers travel back to Seattle for a weekend series May 5-7. That’s seven games in seven days against two top West teams. Then that longtime “natural” rival pops onto the schedule with four consecutive games — two at San Diego, two at the Globe — May 8-11. Right-hander Tyson Ross could make his Rangers debut against his old team. The final two Padres games open an eight-game homestand that includes Oakland and Philadelphia, which will come loaded with former Rangers prospects acquired in the Cole Hamels trade in 2015. Then the Rangers face arguably their toughest road test of the season: a nine-game trip to Detroit (May 19-21), Boston (May 23-25) and Toronto (May 26-28). The month closes with three home games vs. Tampa Bay.
Houston finally comes to town June 2-4, and the New York Mets follow for two games June 6-7. The Rangers head to Washington on June 9-11, when they will face former pitching coach Mike Maddux and a pitching staff that includes the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. The Rangers finish off this six-game road trip with three at Houston (June 12-14). A short but tough seven-game homestand is next (June 16-22), with Seattle finally coming to town for three games and Toronto to follow. The Rangers finish June on the road with eight straight games as part of the season-long 10-game trip — three at Yankee Stadium (June 23-25), at Cleveland (July 26-29) and at Chicago (June 30).
The three-game series against the White Sox finishes up July 1-2, and the Rangers’ stretch of 20 games in 20 days ends with a three-game home series against Boston (July 3-5). The Rangers head into the All-Star break with six home games, the three against Boston and three more against the Angels (July 7-9). The All-Star Game is scheduled for July 11 at Miami. Hamels and Ian Desmond were All-Stars in 2016. The Rangers have another 10-game trip out of the break, going to the summertime sweatboxes at Kansas City (July 14-16) and Baltimore (July 17-20) before heading indoors at Tampa Bay (July 21-23). The Rangers close out the month at home with Miami, Baltimore and Seattle visiting. The Baltimore series coincides with Ivan Rodriguez going into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with induction day set for July 31.
Two games against Seattle open the month before the Rangers hit the road for a six-game trip — four in the pleasant weather at Minnesota (Aug. 3-6) and two at Citi Field against the New York Mets (Aug. 8-9). A three-game series against Houston kicks off a 10-game homestand (Aug. 11-20) that also includes Detroit for three and the White Sox for four. The final 10 games of the month are spent on the road and are all part of a West Coast swing through the division. The trip opens with four at Anaheim (Aug. 21-24), three at the cesspool Oakland Coliseum (Aug. 25-27) and three at Houston (Aug. 29-31). That’s the Rangers’ final trip of the season to Minute Maid Park.
The stretch run begins with three more division games as the Angels come to Globe Life Park for the final time Sept. 1-3. The Rangers then head to Atlanta’s new ballpark Sept. 4-6 and will see old friend Ron Washington, who is coaching third base for the Braves. The Yankees make their only Arlington visit Sept. 8-10 to start a seven-game homestand that includes what could be four critical games against Seattle (Sept. 11-14). The final road trip of the season is a nine-game trek back to the West Coast, with three-game stops in Anaheim (Sept. 15-17), Seattle (Sept. 19-21) and Oakland (Sept. 22-24). The Rangers’ final off day of the season is between the Angels and Mariners series. The final two series of the season are at home, and the three-game series Sept. 25-27 against Houston could be the series of the year. The Rangers close the 2017 regular season Sept. 28-Oct. 1 with four games against the A’s, who are expected to be the worst team in the AL West.