Rangers have final shot for AL West

OAKLAND, Calif. -- It was just last Friday morning that the Texas Rangers held a four-game lead and had a third AL West crown nearly in their grasp.

Now, all of a sudden, they have just one game to make sure it doesn't slip away completely. Just one game to be sure the Oakland Athletics don't swoop in and snatch the division title from a club that has owned it for nearly three seasons.

The Rangers haven't played up to their capabilities down the stretch. They aren't hitting the ball with any consistency and are struggling to come up with key hits with runners in scoring position. They've run into a few outs on the bases and have made some costly defensive mistakes. The starting pitching has been up and down and they have dealt with injuries of late, too.

Put it all together and the Rangers have lost eight of their last 12 (and four of five) and must win Wednesday afternoon against the surging and improbable A's to avoid a win-or-go-home, one-game AL wild-card game Friday.

It's amazing to think that a club that has led the division by itself since April 9 is now tied with the A's with just one game left in the 2012 regular season. This same A's team was once 13 games back of Texas in the AL West, but slowly and surely chipped away at that lead. They've now pulled even.

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