Now that the Rangers have made The Deal, it's time for them to close the bigger deal. That would mean holding off the Angels to win their first American League West title since 1999, and actually winning a postseason series, something that hasn't happened in the franchise's 50-year history.

Texas made a bold move July 9, acquiring Cliff Lee in a six-player deal that sent rookie first baseman Justin Smoak and three prospects to Seattle. The Twins lost out on Lee, but their 6-14 stretch entering Friday showed they were hardly one pitcher away from realizing their World Series dreams.

While the Twins were sputtering, the Rangers sent a message that they were ready for bigger things with a 16-2 run in June. On July 7, two days before consummating the Lee trade, they moved 5 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Angels, matching their largest lead in franchise history.

Lee's arrival was widely celebrated and rightfully so. By all accounts, it was a good trade for both teams, restocking the Mariners with young talent and giving the Rangers the biggest piece they were missing -- a true ace.

Then what happened? The Rangers closed the first half by losing four games at home to the Orioles, a team that entered the series on pace for 115 losses.

In Lee's Rangers debut, he quickly realized he was no longer in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, giving up three home runs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington during a 6-1 complete-game loss. Lee thought only one of the homers would have cleared the fence at Safeco, where he allowed just two homers in 47 1/3 innings this year.

"Obviously, it's a hitter's park, no one would deny that,'' Lee said. "Different dimensions, different weather. I can't change that. I just have to be better at keeping the ball down and getting ground balls.''

Lee proved he could thrive in a bandbox last year, at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, when he helped lead the Phillies to the World Series. But it's worth noting that he is 8-2 with a 2.99 ERA for his career at Safeco and 4-4 with a 7.33 ERA in Arlington.

None of this should suggest the Rangers made a questionable deal. They seized a rare chance to make franchise history. Lee should make a difference, as Texas still has 14 games remaining with the Angels, including seven in the season's final two weeks.

The Angels have won the AL West five times in the past six years, including three in a row, but they suffered a huge blow May 29 when first baseman Kendry Morales, who finished fifth in the MVP voting last year, was lost for the season with a broken ankle.

With Torii Hunter helping to lead the charge, the Angels went 23-17 in their first 40 games without Morales, but then the offense faltered, and Los Angeles went 8-12 heading into the break.

When Lee landed in Texas, Angels fans begged their team to counterpunch with its own move. The Angels added Mark Teixeira in 2008 and Scott Kazmir last year.

"They showed me something I'd never seen before [with the Twins]," Hunter said. "They acquired Tex two years ago, then they got Kaz last year. I was impressed. If they get somebody this year, I'll be excited. If they don't, I'll know it was probably because it didn't make sense."

And probably because the Angels weren't playing well enough to justify a major move, just as the Twins aren't this year.