Wednesday's game didn't end well for the Rangers.
Their chances of a sweep fell away thanks to the Rays smacking Matt Harrison around, leaving the A's 4.5 games behind in the AL West at the close of business. It's not close enough for anyone to really be panicked about Oakland, but it also isn't a big enough gap to feel great about letting a sweep get away from you at home.
Having said that, it's still been a strong stretch for the Rangers of late. Thursday's day off puts an end to a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, a stretch that the Rangers navigated with 12 victories. The closing homestand featured seven wins in 10 games, pumping up their chances of winning the division even more. For a team that seemed to be struggling with summoning up enough effort to even play not so long ago, that's a pretty fine record.
If it's such a fine record, then how did the A's manage to slice a game off the division lead over the stretch? These aren't questions that the Rangers should be asking themselves. They can only concentrate on winning their games and then letting every other chip fall where it may.
If the A's keep winning 65 percent of their games the rest of the way, they'll wind up with 93 wins on the year. That's an excellent record, obviously, and one that could wind up winning a division. But that will only happen if the Rangers somehow slip down to playing .500 baseball the rest of the way.
Can that happen? Of course. It wouldn't make a particularly good bet given the fact that the Rangers have won just under 60 percent of their games over the course of the season, though. As long as the Rangers keep taking care of their end of things, the A's would have to go on a run like they did in the 2002 season (see the Moneyball movie if you don't recall) in order to catch them at this point in the season.
It's a significant advantage to be playing with a lead at this point in the season. Time becomes your friend, something the Rangers should continue to capitalize on as the final months of the season unfold.