Rangers eye AL West crown in clash with A's
(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers can secure their third straight American League West crown on Monday when they begin a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum.
Texas heads into this final regular season series with a two-game lead over Oakland, which, by the way can also lock up a postseason spot with a win in the opener.
"Everybody said Oakland has been a surprise, but not to us," Texas' Michael Young said ahead of the teams' three-game series that starts Monday. "We saw them early in the season and felt they had a chance to be good."
The Rangers locked up their third straight postseason berth with an 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday after blowing a two-run ninth inning lead in game one of the doubleheader, 5-4.
"We had a toast, but all it was, was congratulating them on getting to the postseason," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But what we're after, we haven't got there yet. So enjoy it and go to Oakland and keep going."
The A's currently hold a three-game edge over the Angels for the AL's final wild card spot after they completed a three-game sweep of Seattle, beating the Mariners, 5-2, on Sunday.
"This last series is going to be pretty big for us. That was our goal ever since the start of the season," Athletics starting pitcher Tommy Milone said. "Obviously you want to win the division, you don't want to hope for the wild card spot."
The A's could also get in with losses by both Tampa Bay and the Angels.
Oakland will hand the ball in Monday's opener to righty Jarrod Parker, who has won his last three decisions. Parker beat the Rangers on Wednesday, holding them to three runs and five hits in six innings to run his record to 12-8 on the year to go along with a 3.44 ERA.
"Honestly, our bullpen has had a lot of work lately and early on I was struggling a little bit, and when I came in after the second, Curt (Young) said, 'Flush it,'" Parker said. "That was kind of the mentality I was able to take out there, and to be able to go six and save some guys in the bullpen was big."
Parker has beaten the Rangers both times he has faced them and has pitched to a 1.93 ERA in the process.
Texas, meanwhile, will rely on lefty Martin Perez, who was roughed up by the A's in that Parker win last Wednesday. Perez failed to get out of the first inning in that one, yielding five runs and six hits in just two-thirds of a frame.
"I was trying to throw strikes, and they made adjustments," Perez said. "I was trying to get ahead with the breaking ball and then go with the fastball, and they made adjustments. It wasn't my day."
Texas has split its 16 matchups with the A's this season.
10/01 10:48:00 ET