The Texas Rangers are sliding again in September, right into their final series against AL West foe Oakland.
A huge difference this season is that the Rangers, who were just swept at home in a three-game series by the Pittsburgh Pirates, will be home for this three-game series, and still have two weeks of games left after that.
“Yeah, we still have time,” closer Joe Nathan said. “Hopefully we can turn this thing around at the right time.”
Texas still has a tight hold on the AL’s top wild-card spot despite losing nine of its last 12 games (2-8 in September) while dropping four consecutive series.
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 2012 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 AL 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,” Nathan said. “Obviously we’re looking to win our division. ... We’ve got to grind, we’ve got to turn this thing around. Obviously having time does help. You don’t want to end like that and not have any games left.”
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 3 ½ games back of Oakland.
“Our heart is still in it. We’ve just got to do what we have to do to make sure we win ballgames, that’s all,” manager Ron Washington said. “I’m not concerned. We’ll be ready to play with Oakland coming to town.”
Twins: Manager Ron Gardenhire said catcher Joe Mauer, out since Aug. 20 with a concussion, worked out Thursday and left the ballpark “feeling good.”
Cardinals: Catcher Yadier Molina missed his second consecutive game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium because his mother, Gladys, had unspecified surgery on Wednesday.