Even though the AL West seemed to be a bit of a pipe dream after the Texas Rangers were swept at home by the Pittsburgh Pirates last week while the Oakland A's were taking care of business against the Minnesota Twins, the Rangers making the playoffs in some capacity seemed like a formality.
Well, that's not exactly the case anymore, not after the Rangers suffered their second straight three-game sweep at home, as the A's swept a weekend series to put the AL West out of reach with a 6.5-game lead with 14 games to play.
So now, the Rangers' sights should be set on the AL Wild Card race, as they are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays while the Cleveland Indians loom just a half-game behind the two teams and there are basically fighting with five other teams for the two spots.
This week is crucial for the Rangers, who play a four-game set in Tampa Bay and then a three-game series in Kansas City against the Royals, who enter Monday 3.5 games behind the Rangers and Rays.
Here's what the Rangers need to do to get into the postseason:
The Rangers need to split their four-game set in Tampa Bay. This should be doable. The Rays most definitely have starting pitching, but their offense might be in worse shape right now than the Rangers' is. Look for Derek Holland to bounce back from three awful starts with a nice one on the road — where he pitches much better than he does in Arlington — and look for Yu Darvish to continue to his tear and outduel Matt Moore in the final two games of the series. If Matt Garza can beat his former team on Monday, then that's icing on the cake.
Then, the Rangers need to go to Kansas City and take two of three games against the contending Royals before heading home to end the season with a seven-game homestand against the Astros (three games) and Angels (four games). The Astros series should be a sweep, and if the Rangers can just split with the Angels that would give them 90 wins on the season and should be good enough to earn of the two wild card spots and the right to play in the AL Wild Card Game on Oct. 2.
There it is, the plan for what the Rangers need to do to make the postseason. Now, do you think they'll do it.