ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers are sliding again in September, right into their final series against A.L. West foe Oakland.
A huge difference this season is that the Rangers will be home for this three-game series, and still have two weeks of games left after that.
Texas still has a tight hold on the A.L.’s top wild-card spot despite losing nine of its last 12 games (2-8 in September) while dropping four consecutive series.
But remember how that wild-card thing worked out last season?
After going to two World Series in a row, then being in first place for a MLB-high 178 days last season, the Rangers ended the regular season with their worst slump of the year, losing nine of 13. That included being swept in three games the first week in October at Oakland, which clinched the A.L. West title by winning game No. 162.
Even with Yu Darvish on the mound at home, the Rangers lost the first one-and-done wild-card playoff to Baltimore.
“We’re not going to stop,” closer Joe Nathan said. “Obviously, we’re looking to win our division. … We’ve got to grind, we’ve got to turn this thing around.”
Oakland won 8-2 in its series finale at Minnesota on Thursday, when the Rangers had their last scheduled day off before playing 17 days in a row. The closing stretch starts tonight with the opener of the final series between the American League West’s top two teams during the regular season.
In the last two weeks, including losing two of three in Oakland, the Rangers went from a three-game division lead to now 31/2 games back of Oakland.
There are plenty of areas of concern for the Rangers, who were just swept in three games at home by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Over the past 20 games, the only starting pitchers to win games are rookie left-hander Martin Perez and rotation fill-in Travis Blackley. That’s four times through the rotation without a victory for Darvish, Derek Holland or midseason addition Matt Garza.
Texas has played 12 consecutive games without scoring more than five runs, its longest such slump in more than three years.