At the end of August I previewed the upcoming schedules of both the A’s and the Texas Rangers in September and compared the two to see who had the advantage down the stretch. The two differing schedules would decide the AL West crown as early on in the season the division race left only the A’s and Rangers in the mix. I gave a slight edge to the A’s for easier schedule mainly due to their soft schedule over the last couple of weeks of the month compared to the Rangers steady flow of potential playoff teams throughout the month. As the regular season draws to a close at the end of the next week lets take a look back and see how the month played out and why one team is only one win away from capturing the division crown.
The A’s (who have seven games remaining in the season; 1 v. Minnesota Twins, 3 @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 3 @ Seattle Mariners) are at 15-5 in September. They have beaten down everyone in their path without mercy outside of the Angels. On the completion of games on August 31st the A’s were two games back of the Rangers in the standings although they were coming off a dominating series win in Detroit against the Tigers and had won the first two games against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Coliseum.
The Rangers (who have eight games remaining in the season; 1 @ Kansas City Royals, 3 v. Houston Astros, 4 v. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) are 4-15 in September. That is nearly the exact opposite record of the A’s in the month. They played the A’s twice (they went 1-5), the Pirates (were swept), the Rays (2-2), and the Royals (1-1 with one to play). Those are the teams I mentioned in August that would make or break the Rangers.
Since that day on August 31st the A’s have turned the standings on their head and gone ahead of the Rangers. They gained nine and a half games on the Rangers. They have a seven and a half game lead in the division and have a chance to clinch the division with either a win or a Rangers loss. A nine and a half game swing in 20 games in September is utterly incomprehensible especially with such a talented team who is well managed in the Rangers. Sound familiar? This year has made last year look and seem even more unbelievable than it was.
A lot of people will look at the Rangers and point to their record in September and say it was a collapse. I do not agree with this statement. The A’s dominated their schedule and beat the Rangers hands down. The Rangers did not lose the division; the A’s took the division that they believed was theirs. The Rangers may not even make the playoffs. The A’s may have a chance to rest their players with a win tomorrow and look forward to another trip to October baseball.