Rangers focused on themselves, not A's
And the first thing they check is how the pesky Oakland A's are doing. There's no question the A's have earned the respect of the Rangers' clubhouse. They know they've got good pitching, play solid defense and have turned into a lineup that pounds home runs in the second half of this season. After the Rangers' loss to Seattle on Saturday and Oakland's victory over Baltimore, the Rangers' lead in the AL West is just two games with 17 games to play. That's as close as the race has been since April 13.
But just because they are keeping an eye on other games doesn't mean their focus has wavered. The Rangers, tested through two AL West titles and two straight trips to the World Series, know what they need to do to continue their quest for a third consecutive division crown and a run in the postseason.
They like being the team in front and forcing others to chase them.
"We're in a position where we want to be," manager Ron Washington said. "We're leading. All we do is go play baseball. We don't talk about those kinds of things (clinching and playoffs). There's enough pressures just showing up and going out there and trying to win ballgames. They know what's at stake. I don't even need to mention it. That way we stay focused on what we have to do today."
Washington was complimentary of the A's, noting that they've stayed right behind Texas.
"Oakland is playing good baseball," Washington said. "But when you're running a race and you take the lead, the worst thing you can do is start looking back. I'm not looking behind. They are playing good. We'll play them when the time comes on the schedule for us to play them. Other than that, we've got to take care of what's in front of us. If we do that, I ain't worried about it. But they are playing good. You have to give them credit."
The Rangers have seven games remaining with the Oakland A's -- four in Arlington (Sept. 24-27) and three in Oakland (Oct. 1-3).
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