ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers were seven outs away from watching the Oakland A's take Game 1 of a big four-game series when Adrian Beltre's big stick went to work. A two-run homer in the seventh and a game-winning RBI single -- his AL-leading 19th -- turned a two-run deficit into a 5-4 win.
And it turned what could have been a three-game lead in the AL West into five games. The magic number for the Rangers is five. They can clinch at least a share of the AL West by winning two of the next three games. They can win the division outright by sweeping the series.
But what they've done is put themselves in a great position. They have a five-game lead with nine games to play. That's going to be tough for the A's to overcome, especially after they were in position to win the first game of the series and didn't.
A few other things to keep in mind this week:
* The race for the No. 1 seed is a big one, too. Both the Rangers and Yankees won Tuesday, meaning Texas stays two games up on New York for that top overall seed. That's more important this year because that team plays the winner of the wild card game and gets an extra day to line everything up.
* The Angels have become big Texas fans. They need the Rangers to beat up on Oakland if they have any hopes of stealing a playoff spot from the A's. The Angels are now two games back in the wild-card race and Tampa Bay is three behind. Los Angeles has Seattle starting Tuesday before they come to Texas. So watch that one. It could get interesting.