The American League West race is now down to the last 17 games and after the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers each earned wins Friday, Texas held a 2.5 game lead going into the weekend.
If the Rangers play just under .500 baseball over their last 17 games (8-9), the Angels will have to go 12-6 over their last 18 games to pass the Rangers by one game.
Both Texas and Los Angeles will each get a chance to beat up on Seattle and Oakland before the season is done.
This race is getting the most national attention in a pennant race vacuum where pretty much every division in baseball is all but set.
The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox will go to the playoffs no matter what. Entering Saturday night, the Detroit Tigers held an 9.5 game lead over the Chicago White Sox.
In the National League, the closest race entering the weekend was between the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Brewers held a seven-game lead over the Cardinals.
Even the National League wild card race is non-climatic, as the Atlanta Braves hold a 6.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Thus, only Texas and Los Angeles are in a race where one team will advance and one team will stay at home.
And if the Angels can keep it close, Texas and Los Angeles will square off in a three- game series in Anaheim to end the season (Sept. 26-28), and that will truly deserve some national attention.
The Week That Was…
Survival was the name of the game of the Rangers this week as they played Boston three times and Tampa three times, all on the road. Six road games against two high quality teams during a pennant race is something most teams try to avoid.
In what is a likely postseason preview, Texas opened the first game of the series at Fenway Park with a 10-0 win on Friday night. But the Red Sox repaid the favor on Saturday with a 12-7 drubbing of the Rangers. The double-digit winning theme continued on Sunday as Texas left Boston with an 11-4 win.
It took an average of 11 runs to win each game of the series. What will the playoffs look like if these two teams meet in October?
Texas arrived in Tampa Bay and quickly took a Labor Day loss, 5-1, to James Shields.
But the next day, the Rangers’ bats woke back up with eight runs while C.J. Wilson pitched his first career shutout for his 15th win of the season.
Finally, Tampa responded with a 5-4 walk- off win in the 10th inning to help keep its slim and fading playoff chances alive.
The Rangers ended their road trip with a 3-3 record and their lead in the division shrunk by one game equals survival.
Texas opened its Oakland series with a bang, winning another game with a double-digit output. Michael Young recorded four RBIs as the Rangers scored 13 runs to down the Athletics.
The Week Ahead…
Texas hosts Oakland today at 2:05 p.m. In Los Angeles, the Angels are playing the New York Yankees. This is one of those few times that Texas fans will be OK with a Yankee win.
Texas will host Cleveland for three games before heading out west for a three games series with Seattle and three more with Oakland.