The American League West standings show the Texas Rangers five games ahead of the Angels with more than two months to play, hardly an insurmountable deficit for the Angels.
But there seems to be a great divide between these division rivals, one that was clearly evident on the Angel Stadium field Tuesday night and in the way the clubs are trending.
Alexi Ogando, a lanky 6-foot-4 right-hander with an explosive 96-mph fastball and nasty slider, blanked the Angels on four hits through eight innings to lead the Rangers to a 7-0 victory.
Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre jump-started the Texas offense with consecutive doubles for a run in the first inning and provided an exclamation point with consecutive home runs in the ninth.
Mike Napoli, the former Angels catcher, doubled, singled, walked twice and scored twice, and Endy Chavez hit a two-run homer as the Rangers extended their winning streak to 12, the longest in the major leagues this season and two shy of the club record set in 1991.
The Angels won 20 of 27 games before the All-Star break, erasing all of the Rangers' five-game lead, but they've lost four of five games coming out of the break, going from one game behind Texas to five games back in six days.
They were shut out for the 11th time Tuesday; they were shut out nine times in 2010. Torii Hunter struck out three times and is hitless in 18 at-bats since the break. All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick has one hit in his last 18 at-bats.
"We need to look internally, no matter who we're playing, we need to get better," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I like our team. We're not firing on all cylinders now, but there's no doubt we have the confidence to reach our goal."
The Rangers, on the other hand, are rolling. Actually, they're steamrolling, combining potent hitting with superb pitching and solid defense during the streak, in which they've outscored opponents, 77-24.
They're batting .324 (135 for 417) with 36 doubles and 19 home runs in the 12 games. The pitching staff has given up 23 earned runs in 108 innings for a 1.92 earned-run average, with five shutouts.
Texas has made three errors during the stretch -- two by pitchers -- and opponents have hit only .190 (73 for 385).
The Angels? They were subdued by Oakland's fine pitching staff over the weekend, losing three of four games, and suffocated by Ogando (10-3) on Tuesday night. They're batting .177 (29 for 164) with 11 runs in their last five games.
"We faced good pitching in the Seattle series [a four-game sweep before the break] and got it done," Scioscia said. "Not to take anything away from guys when they're pitching well, but you have to beat good pitching. We couldn't pressure them tonight."
The Rangers put plenty of pressure on starter Tyler Chatwood (5-6), who gave up three runs and seven hits and walked four in five innings, and reliever Michael Kohn, who gave up Chavez's two-run home run in the eighth inning and both ninth-inning shots.
The young right-hander has now given up more homers (six) in 121/3 innings this year than he did in three minor league seasons going into this year (five homers in 135 innings).
It was this kind of night for the Angels: They hit consecutive doubles in the fifth inning ... and didn't score.
Erick Aybar led with a double to left-center field but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple, Beltre making a fine scoop and tag at third after shortstop Elvis Andrus one-hopped the relay throw.
Had Aybar stayed at second base, he would have scored on Mark Trumbo's ensuing double.