By this time next weekend, the Texas Rangers will have finished their season series against the Oakland A’s and will either be American League West champions or on the very cusp of a second straight division title.
And they won’t see Khris Davis again until spring training.
The A’s outfielder continued to torment Rangers pitching Sunday, connecting for two more home runs. He has hit 10 in 16 games this season, the most by an opponent in one season in Rangers history.
Reggie Jackson, a name you might recognize, hit nine in 1974.
The Rangers, meanwhile, continue to torment all those waiting for them to clinch.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-2 loss.
1. The good news for Colby Lewis is that he continued to build his pitch count and work on things ahead of the postseason. The bad news, just as is the case for Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, is there is work left to do.
Lewis threw 92 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs despite allowing only three hits. The problem was, as was the case for Hamels and Darvish, walks did him in.
Lewis walked five A’s hitters, including three in the sixth. The third forced home the tying run. Only one of the batters he walked scored, but the cumulative effect of them forced him out of the game far sooner than had that number been reduced.
Hamels spoke Friday about the need to eliminate walks with the postseason dead ahead. Lewis was couldn’t have been more succinct in how costly his walks were. Playoff teams have a knack for taking advantage of free chances, and their pitching staffs are pretty stingy.
The rotation’s lost weekend felt like spring training, when pitchers go out, work on stuff and don’t worry about the results. Everything will be fine once Opening Day arrives.
(They’re worried about the results, of course, but not the big picture.)
Lewis has two more starts to work out the kinks, just as is the case for Hamels and Darvish. They expect to be just fine once the postseason begins.
The Rangers hope they are right.
2. Martin Perez and A.J. Griffin are scheduled to start for the Rangers on Monday and Tuesday to open a series against the Angels. Wednesday’s starter is TBA, but could be either Cole Hamels or Derek Holland.
Perez is looking at three more starts this season, and the fourth spot in the playoff rotation could be his to lose based on his last three. Two of those quality outings were on the road, where he overall he has been lousy this season.
If he is the fourth starter and is needed, that game would come on the road.
He has fared well against AL West teams, with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts, but is 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA against the Angels. His last start against them, though, was on the road, where he allowed seven earned runs in six innings.
Perez will be making his 31st start of the year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, which is a significant season. With worries about his arm behind him and his stuff still respected across the league, he could be looking at a big 2017.
He could jump-start it with a big postseason run.
3. The notion that the Rangers play down to their opponent was dismissed last month by manager Jeff Banister after losing 2 of 3 at last-place Tampa Bay. But after losing 2 of 3 to the A’s, it’s worth a second look.
(First, a defense of the A’s as they currently stand: Their batters are smoking at the plate and were entering the series. The Defense rests.)
The Rangers fell to 28-31 this season against teams below .500. That includes a 2-1 showing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost Sunday to fall to 74-75. The Rangers are 8-8 against Oakland, 8-8 against Anaheim and 2-5 against Minnesota.
The Rangers, 60-31 against winning teams, have 12 games remaining, and each one is against a sub-.500 club.
But let’s say the Rangers play the final 12 games to their winning percentage against losing teams, going 5-7 to leave them at 93-69. That’s a winner. Were they to go 4-8, the second-place Seattle Mariners would have to go 13-0 just to tie for the division lead.
It’s still possible for the Rangers to clinch this homestand, though they would need a sweep of the Angels, the Mariners to get swept by Toronto and for third-place Houston to lose 2 of 3 at Oakland.
The Rangers could also clinch on the off day Thursday, which would be no fun.
But despite all the woe laid out here, the Rangers are going to clinch.