Rangers slump into break as AL's best

Texas drops 9 of last 12, holds 5 1/2-game lead in West

Rangers slump into break as AL's best

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers enter the All-Star break appearing to be a team in need of some time off.

Losing nine out of 12 will do that, especially when it includes losing five of seven to a team with the worst record in the American League. The Rangers had one more bad day to deal with as they closed out the first half with a 15-5 loss to the Twins on Sunday afternoon.

The Rangers still go into the All-Star break with the best record in the AL and a 5 1/2-game lead in the West. That's the largest lead the Rangers have ever had at the All-Star break, so they don't really need to be moping around over the next few days before resuming play against the Cubs on Friday in Chicago.

"Have you ever seen them brood or mope?" manager Jeff Banister said. "I haven't. We have done exceptionally well washing things off and moving on. There are some points in the season where they don't feel so well or look so well. Today capped all that off. Hopefully, that's the bottom.

"We are going to take four days, regroup, recharge, we are going to take a bird to Chicago and be ready to play baseball."

The only red flag? The Rangers lost 4 1/2 games in the standings in 12 days as the Astros charged back into the race. Banister said that shouldn't be the focus.

"Remember where you are at right now," he said. "Don't need to think about where we were. We need to focus on where we are at right now. There are times where you hope for a rainout; we get a four-day rainout."

During the last 12 games, the Rangers have been outscored 98-56, their pitching staff has a 7.53 ERA -- including 10.50 from their starters -- and they have committed 10 errors leading to 11 unearned runs.

They committed three errors on Sunday, all in the eighth inning. Finally Prince Fielder, getting a start at first base, had to go to the mound and give a pep talk to the rest of the infield.

Banister had his own meeting with the team afterward.

"It's a situation like everybody else," Banister said. "We got some guys that are banged up, little bruised, their energy level is not as high. We saw it today. I told them all: This game will find out if you really want what you say you want. Are you really who you say you are? Are you willing to do what it takes every single day to get to where you want to go?

"This is a challenging sport. We know that. Clear your head, clear your minds, let your body heal up for a few days, spend time with your family. But when you get back here ... it's time to play baseball. It's time to get back and do what we do best."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.