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It’s literally a race to the finish for the Texas Rangers. They’re 14-11 in the month of September and all of a sudden their lead for home field and the division are in jeopardy with just six games to play. The offense this month has been carried by AL MVP candidates Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. But injuries to the two players have forced other players to have to pick up the slack and it’s been a struggle. Add on top of that the fact that the starters have had to lean on the bullpen more than usual this month because Texas has a black hole in the #5 spot, and it’s clear why the Rangers are just dying to get to the postseason already.
Luckily, after beating the Oakland A’s 9-7 today to get a split in their four-game home series, the magic number for Texas has shrunk to three. Texas got lucky in this game. They haven’t won a game while giving up seven or more runs since August 8th when they beat the Boston Red Sox 10-9. That’s because they just haven’t had the offense to stay in every game this month. Despite scoring the most runs in the majors this season and being 2nd in overall OPS, the Rangers are 18TH(!) in runs scored in September and 10th in OPS.
If I were Ron Washington, I’d shrink the rotation down to four pitchers for the last six games in case home field or a division spot come down to the wire. The New York Yankees have seven games left starting with a four game road series in Toronto that begins tonight. After they play the Blue Jays, they finish the season with a three game home series against the Red Sox. Those are the two worst teams in the division. The Baltimore Orioles are also in play for home field, but with a three game road series against the Tampa Bay Rays to finish the season, it’s looking like a two team race for the best record in the AL.
Instead of having Martin Perez pitch the series opener against the A’s, bring back Matt Harrison on short rest. He’s already rested for five and seven days between starts this month. The move will allow the Rangers best pitchers to clinch home field because if they give away a loss the way they have for almost every start this month in that #5 spot, then home field is in jeopardy.
That’s why today’s win over the A’s was so huge. Texas doesn’t take an emotional hit from losing three of four games to a team challenging from the division, the A’s stay at bay three games back, and the Rangers remain one game up on the Yankees for home field. Texas needs these wins. Two weeks ago, they were looking as dangerous as ever to reach and probably win the World Series. Right now, no one is afraid of going to Arlington.