Rangers focusing on themselves, not the scoreboard, in Wild Card chase
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers will need help from other teams if they want to qualify for the postseason. Just don't tell that to manager Ron Washington.
"No, we just need to beat who we're in front of," Washington said prior to Monday's series opener against the Astros. "And if that don't help, then that's the way it was supposed to be. But I don't need anybody…I would like for them (other teams) to beat them while we win, but I'm not depending on that."
The Rangers were 1.5 games behind Cleveland for the second AL Wild Card spot heading into the final week of the season, a seven-game homestand.
With the Oakland A's already clinching the AL West title, the Rangers have three games against the Astros and four against the Angels to make a final bid for the postseason. It is the first time the Rangers have needed outside help to make the postseason since 2009.
Washington said he hasn't been watching the out-of-town scoreboard to keep up with the other teams vying for the Wild Card. He hasn't purposely been avoiding the scoreboard, either, but has kept his focus on his own team.
Washington did address the team's offensive failures while seeing their playoff chances dwindle. However, he wouldn't entertain the question of whether suspended outfielder Nelson Cruz would be welcomed back if the Rangers should make the postseason.
"Right now I'm not thinking that far ahead," Washington said. "I really just want to stay on today, the 23rd of September, and the Astros. We'll certainly deal with that issue when the time comes."
After holding at least a share of the division lead for 94 days this season, the Rangers are suddenly on the outside looking in at times in position to clinch Wild Card berths.
"It doesn't matter what goes on around the league right now," closer Joe Nathan said. "If we don't take care of business in this stadium, we'll find ourselves packing and back home sooner than we want to."
Home may not be the best place for the Rangers to make their final stand. They are 0-7 in September at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers were swept by the Pirates and A's in their last homestand.
"I don't think you can point to one thing that's causing this," outfielder Alex Rios said of the home field struggles. "I think it's just bad luck."
The Rangers may have to win nearly all their remaining games to grab a Wild Card berth. That would require another turnaround of a recent trend, since they haven't won two straight since Aug. 26-28 in Seattle.
"We have to win as many games as we can," Rios said. "There's no secret, we have to win most of these games."
They also have to hope either Tampa Bay, which has a half-game lead in the Wild Card standings, or Cleveland loses enough to allow them to move up.
"For myself, for the guys in this clubhouse, our concern is about taking care of what we can handle," Nathan said. "If we come in here and take care of business this week and things don't work out, at least we can say we played well down the stretch to give ourselves a chance.
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