The Texas Rangers failed to clinch the American League West over the weekend but still made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Texas lost three of its last four games to the Seattle Mariners to close the season, including a 1-0 loss on Sunday to finish tied for first place in the division with the Houston Astros.
“Sure, you want to get greedy and win this last one, but we just couldn’t find a way to win today,” manager Bruce Bochy told the media after the loss.
The Rangers also lost the tiebreaker to Houston because the Astros went 9-4 against Texas this season. As a result, the Rangers are one of three wild card teams in the American League and will travel to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-three series.
“It’s obvious we wanted to win this game, but we didn’t,” Bochy said. “It’s going to be up to us now to go through Tampa. We fly there and play a really good team, so we’ve got to get this offense going.”
Texas’ offense scored two runs or fewer three times in the series and was shut out twice, including Sunday’s loss in which it only managed four hits in a pitchers’ duel between Dane Dunning and Seattle’s George Kirby.
“Kirby’s been tough on a lot of teams,” Bochy acknowledged. “We knew we had our hands full, but you’ve got to find a way to get a run, and we didn’t do it.”
Seattle’s Dominic Canzone slid under Rangers catcher Jonah Heim’s tag and scored the game’s only run on a ground out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth. Texas put the tying run on base in the ninth, but Isaiah Campbell retired Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Mitch Garver to end the game.
“We got the groundball we were looking for, and it just looked like Jonah did the sweep-tag and missed him there,” Bochy said. “Still, you’ve got to score a run to win a ball game, and we got shut down.”
The wild card series between Texas (90-72) and Tampa Bay (99-63) will begin at 2:08 p.m. CT on Tuesday, with Game 2 and Game 3 (if necessary) at the same time Wednesday and Thursday. Bochy said he would likely name the Rangers’ Game 1 starter on Monday, while Tampa will send Tyler Glasnow (10-7, 3.53 ERA) to the mound.
The first to win two games in the series will advance to play the top-seeded Baltimore Orioles (101-61) in a best-of-five series in the American League Divisional Series.