Rangers enjoy final week of wild West

ARLINGTON, Texas -- How can you explain this?

The AL West has been settled at the top with the Los Angeles Angels having already won the division. Aside from that, we have the last-place Texas Rangers avoiding a 100-loss season and the worst record in baseball with this incredible stretch of 12 wins in their past 13 games.

Between the Angels and Rangers we have the Seattle Mariners hanging on to slim playoff hopes as the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals hold on to the two wild-card playoff spots.

The Athletics, who lost to the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday night, are falling apart.

Oakland is now one game behind the Royals for the top wild-card spot and only two games ahead of the Mariners with three games to play. The Athletics have lost seven of their past 10 games and have won only eight games since Aug. 28, tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the fewest wins since then.

Maybe on Friday things will settle down around the AL West and the Athletics will eventually clinch a playoff berth and the Rangers will fall back to earth and we can all move on with our lives and start the playoffs next week.


When you listen to A's manager Bob Melvin talk before the game about watching what the Mariners do, he's trying to almost ignore what's occurring as his team limps around during the biggest week of the regular season.

"It really shouldn't matter, it's right there in front of us," he said. "All we have to do is win some baseball games and we'll be fine. For me, it's more of a distraction. We just have to win our games, that's what counts."

Melvin is right. But the Rangers are winning games too, with lineups featuring numerous rookies. There were seven in the lineup Wednesday and five Thursday. With a mixture of veterans added, it has boosted the Rangers to this 66-93 record.

"Our job is to win ballgames every day," said third baseman Adrian Beltre, who belted the winning home run in the ninth inning Thursday. "It doesn't matter who we play or what the situation is, you have to go out there and win ballgames and that's what we're trying to do every day."

Thursday night, the Rangers' vets -- 35-year-old starting pitcher Colby Lewis and 36-year-old Beltre -- kept their team in it. During this stretch run of victories for the Rangers, rookies such as Rougned Odor, Jake Smolinski, Ryan Rua, Tomas Telis and a few others have contributed.

"The young guys are getting more comfortable, getting more at-bats," Beltre said. "They're not pressing. It's a tough situation for a young guy to come from minor leagues and try to fit in and do everything well. They're showing the talent they had, why they're here."

You ask people around the Rangers if there is anything to play for and they tell you, of course there is. Evaluations mean that everyone from interim manager Tim Bogar to the last man on the 40-man roster is under the microscope.

"Once you get on a roll like we have been, we just expect to come to the park and expect to keep doing it," said Smolinski, who had a single in three at-bats Thursday. "It's been really cool and I understand we're out of it, but these last 15 games has been fun. It seems like it's a new person every night that comes up with something big."

The Athletics need to respond with something big this weekend, or the fun will remain in the home team's dugout.