Amid recent struggles, the Texas Rangers are entering the final week of the regular season in first place in the American League West with a two-and-a-half-game lead on the Houston Astros.
The Rangers entered a weekend series with Seattle trailing the Astros by half a game and came away with a crucial three-game sweep to increase their winning streak to five games and reclaim control of the division, as the Kansas City Royals swept Houston.
“I just love the way they’re coming out,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy told the media after Sunday’s game. “With the fire that they’re playing with, you feel it in the dugout, [and] you feel it in the stands. Part of this is how much the crowd’s into it, and they’re feeding off that.”
The Rangers gave the home crowd plenty to cheer for as they improved to 8-1 against Seattle to wrap up their regular season home slate.
On Friday, home runs from Corey Seager and Evan Carter helped the team build an 8-0 lead, and it held on for an 8-5 victory. Jordan Montgomery delivered a brilliant pitching performance on Saturday to claim a 2-0 win, and a four-run fourth inning helped Texas withstand a late Seattle rally to finish the sweep on Sunday.
“We did what we were hoping to do,” Bochy told the media. “To get a sweep, that’s tough duty against a good club like Seattle. Again, we have seven games left here. We’re in a better position [than] not too long ago. That just shows you the fight and the determination.”
The Rangers begin the week as the No.2 seed in the American League, trailing the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays, who are battling for the AL East. If Texas can clinch the division, it will hold home-field advantage in the American League Division Series against the winner of the No.3-No.6 Wild Card matchup.
The Rangers (87-68) will finish the season with a seven-game West Coast road trip, beginning with three games against the Los Angeles Angels and wrapping up with a four-game series in Seattle.
Texas’ magic number entering the final stretch is five, meaning the Rangers can clinch the division with either five wins or a few wins combined with losses by the Astros and Mariners (e.g. If the Rangers lose but so do Houston and Seattle, the magic number drops to four. If the Rangers lose and Houston and Seattle win, the magic number stays at five).