After Nightmare in Oakland, What Now for the Texas Rangers?

By Peter Ellwood

It was a historic collapse. A terrible, horrible, historic collapse. The Texas Rangers became the first team in MLB history to lose their division after leading by five games with nine games left to play. Similar to how the season ended, in this game the Oakland Athletics scored 11 unanswered runs on Wednesday to overcome a 5-1 deficit against Texas and run away with the game and division by a 12-1 score.

Except for the first three games of the 2012 season, and the last two days, the Rangers were the sole occupants of first place in the American League West. Now, they find themselves with only a Wild Card berth.

After such a crushing defeat, it would seem that the Rangers season is doomed to crumble and fade away. However, they may still have reason to hope. In front of the Rangers is a one-game playoff on Friday at home against the Baltimore Orioles, a team that the Rangers handled fairly easily this season, winning five out of the seven games between the two opponents.

That is the only game that the Rangers need to worry about. They can now put the full season behind them and start fresh. In the past two years, the Rangers have lost to teams that have needed a little amnesia of their own. Now, it is the Rangers turn to employ the “just get in” formula, and see what happens.

If the Rangers are able to beat the Orioles, they would advance to play the New York Yankees in a best-of-five series that would begin Sunday, in Arlington. The new playoff format for the division series is a 2-3 format, with the first two games taking place at the Wild Card team’s home field, and the next three will be in Yankee Stadium (if necessary). Since the announcement of this schedule, it seemed to provide the advantage to the Wild Card team, rather than the team with the best record in the league. Now, the Rangers have a chance to be that Wild Card team who gets the edge.

Of course, all of this is a moot point if the Rangers continue to play the same kind of baseball that led them to win just two of their final nine games of the regular season. They get a day off to re-focus after getting steamrolled in Oakland, and recharge before facing the other miracle team de jour, the Orioles.

This will be the first elimination game the Rangers have played since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. They have been here before, they know what to do, and now it just a matter of executing.

While the end of the regular season most certainly would not have been what they chose, the potential exists that it just might work out fine for the Rangers. There is still time for optimism for the Texas Rangers. They get one last shot at keeping their season alive. At this point, that is all they can ask for, because it is all they can get.

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