No matter how you slice it, there's no way to change the realities of mathematics.
That can work against you. See the Rangers' 3.5 game lead over the A's in the AL West at the start of business on Monday for an example of that. No matter what the Rangers do, they can't shake Oakland off their tail and the simple math of the situation makes it clear that one bad week could leave the Rangers in the undesirable position of fighting for a Wild Card.
Of course, math can work for you as well. The number to keep in mind on this front is 22. That's how many games the Rangers have left in the season and how many games the A's will have left after they play the Angels on Monday night.
Giving up even a three game lead over the course of 22 games isn't easy to do. There are reasons why you built that lead, after all, and those reasons haven't gone away. So the math says that the A's will have to play four games better than the Rangers the rest of the way.
It's certainly not impossible, but it's not particularly likely either. Our old friend math rears its head again as we look into the probabilities of these two teams passing each other in the standings. Teams go through ebbs and flows over the course of a long season, but they eventually even out to paint a picture of what the team is overall. We have 140 games of evidence about the A's and Rangers and it tells us that the Rangers are better.
That's why the Ranger's middling 6-4 road trip was perfectly fine, even if it ended with the Rays taking two of three this weekend. Winning those games is better, obviously, but they lost just a half-game over the course of the trip which supports the notion that the A's aren't good enough to beat out the Rangers unless the Rangers go directly into the tank.
Again, not an impossibility but there's not much about this Rangers team that suggests they'll be quaffing beer and gobbling fried chicken for the next few weeks in hopes of following in the footsteps of the 2011 Red Sox. Moving at the current pace keeps all the pressure on Oakland and forces them to play flawless baseball to win the division.
Holding serve and doing enough to maintain your place in the standings is not the stuff of legend, but it's effective. Kinda like math.