ARLINGTON -- The Rangers spent most of the first half in first place in the American League West, but that was hardly cause for celebration in and around the Ballpark in Arlington.Being in first place did not keep the Rangers from changing hitting coaches at the beginning of June, it did not keep manager Ron Washington from agonizing over his team being last in the AL in defense and it did not keep the front office from conducting an extended search for relief help. Starting pitching has been the Rangers' strength, with C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando pitching like All-Stars. Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison weren't far behind, despite both having a couple of rough stretches. Derek Holland was hair-pulling up and down, but a five-hit shutout in Cleveland was a reminder of the level he is capable of performing at. But he was inconsistent, and club president Nolan Ryan said that was what was most frustrating about the team as a whole. The fans are still coming out at a record pace, and if they continue to do so through the hot summer, the Rangers could break 3 million in attendance for the first time in club history. They won't do it if they let their division lead slip away, and the Rangers, after starting the season by winning nine of their first 10, harbor a nagging suspicion that they had a chance to bury their division foes but didn't take advantage.
"We know we have a good team," designated hitter Michael Young said. "We just need to focus on doing what we can to get better and playing our style of baseball. If we do that, we'll be fine."
AT THE BREAK
- MVP: Michael Young -- He is hitting for average, driving in runs and his versatility has been an asset.
- Cy Young: C.J. Wilson -- Both he and Alexi Ogando were deserving of All-Star consideration.
- Rookie: Craig Gentry -- He has carved out a role as a platoon center fielder and his defense has been outstanding.
- Top reliever: Neftali Feliz -- He has been occasionally erratic with too many walks but he is still one of the top closers in the game.
Players to watch in the second half
- Darren O'Day: If he can pitch like he did the past two seasons, it could do much to help the Rangers bullpen.
- Chris Davis: He is crushing the ball in Triple-A and could return to the big leagues at some point in the second half.
- Alexi Ogando: He could be the dominating starter the Rangers need in the playoffs if he can hold up for a full season.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.