A late surge has the Texas Rangers entering their scheduled regular season finale in position to reach the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
With Yu Darvish hoping to continue his success against the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers can potentially secure an AL wild-card berth with a seventh consecutive victory Sunday.By Tampa Bay dropping two straight in Toronto and Texas (90-71) taking the first three of this four-game set, the Rangers have moved into a tie with the Rays for the second and final wild-card spot. The teams trail wild-card leader Cleveland by one game.The Rangers have batted .307 and averaged 6.7 runs during their six-game winning streak, but they know that won't mean anything if they don't come through Sunday."It doesn't change what we need to do, we need to come in (Sunday) and win a game," said Joe Nathan, who closed out Saturday's 7-4 victory over Los Angeles in a downpour. "We don't want to have to rely on somebody to help us all the time."If the Rays win Sunday -- their game against the Blue Jays starts two hours before this one -- the Rangers will miss the postseason for the first time since 2009 if they lose.If Texas and Tampa Bay remain tied after Sunday while Cleveland beats Minnesota, the Rangers and Rays would meet in a one-game playoff for the second wild-card spot Monday in Arlington. Should Texas win Sunday while the Indians and Rays both lose, Cleveland would host the Rangers in Wednesday's wild-card game because it won the season series 5-1.If all three finish the regular season tied, the tiebreaking scenario would have the Indians hosting the Rays on Monday, with the winner earning one wild-card berth and the loser playing at Texas on Tuesday for the final spot."We have to take care of business with the same intensity and not let down," Nathan told the Rangers' official website. "If we win, we still have more baseball left to play."Craig Gentry had two hits with an RBI on Saturday as the Rangers ran their home winning streak over the Angels to seven and improved to 14-4 against their West division rival.Gentry is 6 for 12 in the series and batting .455 in his last nine games.Darvish (13-9, 2.82 ERA) is 5-0 over his past seven starts against the Angels and has a 2.76 ERA in the last five. He's won all three matchups this season with 23 strikeouts in 18 innings.The right-hander has a 2.22 ERA in his last four starts overall but has gone 1-2."The most important thing right now is to win a game," said Darvish, who was walked 10 in 10 1/3 innings in his last two starts.Jason Vargas (9-7, 4.01) could potentially spoil the Rangers' postseason hopes and help the Angels (78-83) avoid a four-game sweep to conclude a second straight underachieving season.The left-hander, who has a 2.89 ERA without a decision in three starts versus Texas in 2013, went 0-2 with an 8.41 ERA in his first four September starts before tossing a four-hitter in Tuesday's 3-0 victory over Oakland.Vargas, who has three complete games during a season in which he missed almost two months because of a blood clot near his armpit, will be a free agent and could be making his last start for the Angels."When you come back from (an injury) like that, you've got to make do with what you've got and let the chips fall," he said.Batting .250 with 21 homers and 78 RBIs during a disappointing first season with Los Angeles, former Texas star Josh Hamilton has hit .300 during a 13-game hitting streak.While Hamilton has gone 3 for 10 with a double against Darvish, Howie Kendrick is 0 for 14. Mike Trout, in a 3-for-22 slump, has hit .308 (8 for 26) with three homers off Darvish.