Still, it's pretty big for the Rangers, who go into Oakland for a three-game weekend series trailing the A's by 3 1/2 games in the American League West.
The Rangers can set the tone for what looks like a light schedule in August. After these three games against the A's, Texas doesn't play another game against a team with a winning record until Oakland on Sept. 2.
That's 24 straight games against opponents with losing records, and ugly ones at that (Seattle at 50-57 has the best record of the group the Rangers will see in August). Meanwhile, the A's have 16 games in August against teams that have a winning record.
So win two out of three in Oakland and the Rangers have a big chance to overtake the A's in the AL West.
Here's what to watch for this weekend:
A's out in front: The A's had their lead up to six games in the AL West before back-to-back home losses to the Toronto Blue Jays coupled with three straight wins by the Rangers. Oakland is 7-6 since the All-Star break while the Rangers are 6-8. The A's went 15-10 in July, picking up 4 1/2 games on the Rangers, who were 11-15 for the month. Oakland is a major league-best 43-23 since May 17 with the A's picking up 11 1/2 games on Texas in the standings.
|Eric Nadel joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' series with Oakland.
Close calls: If this weekend's games are close games, flip a coin. The Rangers have baseball's best winning percentage in one-run games at .643. They are 18-10. The A's are next with a .636 winning percentage. They are 21-12 in one-run games. The Rangers are 3-1 against the A's in one-run games this season.
Avoiding Colon: The Rangers will avoid their nemesis Bartolo Colon, who took a no-decision in the A's 5-2 loss in 10 innings to Toronto on Wednesday. Colon is 19-7 against Texas. Instead the Rangers will get left-hander Tommy Milone on Friday and right-handers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin in day games on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. That trio is 5-3 against the Rangers with Milone carrying a 0-3 record and a 4.24 ERA against Texas. Parker is 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA against Texas in his short career. Griffin is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA.
Can't stop Balfour: He's given the Rangers fits of late and was on the mound when the A's clinched the AL West in the final game of the 2012 season. Balfour is still going strong, though he did have his streak of 44 consecutive saves snapped on July 23 in a 5-4 loss at Houston (it happened on a throwing error by catcher Derek Norris). Balfour still leads the AL in save percentage (96.6 percent) and hasn't allowed a run in 21 of his past 23 appearances. The current Rangers are batting .121 against Balfour. Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and David Murphy all have two hits against him.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.