The Texas Rangers haven't won a game since last Wednesday. They've dropped four in a row - includinga 7-2 Labor Day thrashing at the hands of the Blue Jays in Toronto
and one of the wildest, worst endings to a game you ever did see on Sunday in Minnesota - and seven of their last nine. Pitching ace Cliff Lee will miss his start tonight (Scott Feldman gets the ball) with a bad back, MVP candidate Josh Hamilton will miss at least another week with bad ribs, set-up man Frankie Francisco is on the shelf and shortstop Elvis Andrus has sore hamstrings.
Oh yeah, and their lead in the American League West is down to seven games, smallest its been since August 19.
Translation: Don't worry.
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I fully realize that bigger leads have been lost in shorter times, and I remember the Rangers' nine-game lead on September 11, 1996 dwindling to one before they nailed down their first division title. With injuries and rest, this thing will get scary before it gets sealed.
But unless the Rangers pull a San Diego Padres' el foldo and lose 10 in a row, it's still sealed.
Look at it this way, despite their current funk the Rangers could go 12-13 over their last 25 and - just to force a tie and a one-game playoff - the A's would have to go 19-6. Not that the Rangers aren't - in the big picture - just a .500 team living off that one red-hot streak in June, but 19-6 seems irrational for an Oakland team that's still one game under .500 for the season.
Still, that four-game series September 23-26 in Oakland might be juicy after all, eh?