While the Texas Rangers’ loss Sunday on an extra-inning grand slam in Kansas City is devastating to their postseason hopes, it’s not catastrophic.
There could be enough time to recover, but margin for error has vanished. The Rangers, now desperate, probably need at least 6-1 in the final week, perhaps 7-0, and help elsewhere.
The good news is they return home to face two struggling teams they’ve owned: the Astros and Angels. Texas is 14-2 vs. Houston and 11-4 vs. L.A.
“We need an amazing home stand,” shortstop Elvis Andrus told reporters in Kansas City, where a former Astro, Justin Maxwell, beat them 4-0 with a walk-off granny against former Royals closer Joakim Soria in the 10th inning. “Now we’ll see how badly we want to get back to the playoffs.”
The American League West Division title is no longer an option. Oakland clinched the crown Sunday, as did Atlanta in the National League East.
Texas trails Tampa Bay by two games and Cleveland by 1½ in the wild-card race and must overhaul one of them to reach the wild-card playoff. The Rangers have an easier closing schedule than the Rays.
The Royals, Yankees and Orioles also are alive, but barely.
It’s entirely possible there could be a two- or three-way tie involving the Rangers, Rays and Indians, which would require an additional winner-take-all game or games starting a week from Monday. The AL wild-card playoff is Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Breaking down each team’s chances, with percentages from Las Vegas oddsmakers for earning a wild card:
Cleveland (86-70) — 6 games; 2 vs. Chi WSox, 4 at Min. Odds: 76 percent.
Plus: 15-6 in September with a 2.80 staff ERA, and the Indians’ run differential of +62 is more than solid. Oh, and their final opponents are a combined 58 games under .500.
Minus: Young team unaccustomed to success and pressure, so the collars could get snug. Realistically, though, the Indians are in the driver’s seat.
Tampa Bay (86-69) — 7 games; 1 vs. Bal; 3 at NYY; 3 at Tor. Odds: 69 percent.
Plus: Playoff-tested and excel in winning the tight games. The Rays take the best record into the final week and are 8-3 in the last 11.
Minus: The most difficult schedule, with four games against contenders and 6 of 7 on the road, where they are 36-39.
Texas (84-71) — 7 games; 3 vs. Hou; 4 vs. LAA. Odds: 38 percent.
Plus: A veteran team with plenty of playoff experience. All home games. Sweeping the Astros should be relatively easy. Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez are lined up against three pitchers with ERAs of 5.00 or higher.
Minus: If the Rangers only go 5-2, they’d need either the Indians to go 3-3 or the Rays to go 3-4 just to reach a one-game tiebreaker scenario. And wouldn’t Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson and the Angels just love to spoil the Rangers’ chances?
Kansas City (82-73) — 7 games; 3 at Sea, 4 at Chi WSox. Odds: 10 percent.
Plus: The remaining opponents are also-rans.
Minus: Sweeping seven road games is unrealistic, and it’s hard to picture anything less earning the Royals a shot.
NY Yankees (82-74) — 6 games; 3 vs. TB; 3 at Hou. Odds: 6 percent.
Plus: The Bombers can make serious inroads on the Rays with a sweep.
Minus: They need to go 6-0 and hope the Indians, Rays and Rangers collapse.
Baltimore (81-74) — 7 games; 1 vs. TB; 3 vs. Tor; 3 vs. Bos. Odds: less than 1 percent.
Minus: There is no plus. Vegas basically took the Orioles off the board after Sunday’s loss.
AL WILD CARD
(top two advance)
With one week left in the season: