OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers watched as the Oakland A's streamed out of the dugout and put on a wild celebration on the field after clinching their first playoff berth since 2006. The Rangers are still waiting on their champagne celebration, one that is still within reach though not in their grasp yet. The division gap is just one game, the Rangers' slimmest lead since April 12. The club has lost seven of its last 11 and five of the past seven games as the A's have continued to find ways to win.
"We've got to win a ballgame," Rangers veteran Michael Young said. "Every game has been important now for a long time. That's the attitude we've taken for the last week, week and a half. We've played in a lot of tight games. This team has a ton of experience in those kind of games. We'll come out tomorrow night ready to play."
In a close game, the A's were able to execute critical scoring sessions while the Rangers came up short. The third inning was a prime example of the Rangers' inability to get one more run in when given the chance. After Elvis Andrus' single scored Mike Napoli, first baseman Mitch Moreland was able to scamper to third with one out. Josh Hamilton came up and took two strikes and swung at a third, which was out of the strike zone, for the second out. Adrian Beltre grounded out to end the inning.
The A's got back-to-back doubles in the fourth to score a run and then, with one out and runners at the corners, got a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Brandon Moss. It was hit to shallow center and Coco Crisp raced home, making a good slide to avoid Mike Napoli's tag following a solid throw from Hamilton. But executing in that inning provided what ended up being the winning run.
"We had a situation with runners at first and third and Ham was there and we didn't deliver there," Washington said. "Those types of situations you want to try to take advantage of. We didn't. To me, that's the difference in the ballgame."
Many Rangers spoke highly of the A's, complimenting what they've done this season. But for Texas, the mission hasn't changed. They need to win one of the next two games to secure a third division title and avoid playing in Friday's AL wild card game.
"We're upbeat in here," said catcher Mike Napoli, who had a homer in the seventh inning. "We're not worried about anything. We'll go out there tomorrow and try to win the division."