OAKLAND, Calif. – The Texas Rangers don’t have a lot of time to move on and try to put the disappointment of not winning the AL West behind them.
They had a five-game lead with nine games to play (and a four-game lead with six to go) and couldn’t close the deal. So Oakland is on its way to Detroit to play the Tigers in the ALDS and the Rangers will be in Arlington on Friday in what David Murphy aptly described as a Game 7.
How do they turn the page quickly with first pitch against the Orioles coming Friday night?
“We don’t have a choice,” veteran Michael Young said. “It’s a big game. You can’t sit there and lick your wounds and worry about it. You have to get ready to play. If you win, you have an opportunity to compete at that point.”
Young conceded that how the club got into the postseason wasn’t how they “drew it up,” but that they still have a chance to attain their ultimate goal.
“It means we have to win 12 games instead of 11,” pitcher Ryan Dempster said.
But first, they have to win one. And it’s the AL wild-card game on Friday at 7:37 p.m. against a Baltimore team with some familiar faces. It’s as if they are Texas Rangers North. Former Rangers manager Buck Showalter helped guide them to their first playoff berth since 1997 and he did it with some players that were with the Rangers organization recently. First baseman Chris Davis has pounded home runs and found his groove. Pedro Strop, Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter have helped the bullpen.
But it’s a club that has found a way to win close games. They rarely crush an opponent, but they usually find a way of sticking around. And if they’re leading after seven innings, the bullpen shuts things down.
The Rangers played well against the Orioles this season and will try to channel some of those good thoughts as they prepare.
“It’s going to be a tough road,” catcher Mike Napoli said. “We’ll have to win a playoff game and go from there. We’re worried about this playoff game and that’s it.”