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Friday a.m. Rangers things

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Friday morning Rangers news and links

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The A's lost to Houston last night.  At home.  That puts the Rangers back in first place in the A.L. West.

Jeff Wilson has a story in the S-T about the absence of Nelson Cruz and how that has impacted the Rangers.

T.R. Sullivan has a story about the Rangers and Oakland being in a tight race the rest of the way to win the division, although he makes a rather curious point:

This one feels different because with 23 games remaining, there exists a real possibility the Rangers could miss the playoffs altogether. There was never really that feeling in the previous three seasons, even with the late-September collapse of 2012.

In each of the past two seasons, the Rangers had a 4 1/2-game lead after 139 games. In 2010, Texas had a seven-game lead on the way to its first division title in 11 years.

"Regardless if you are 4 1/2 games up or 4 1/2 games behind, every year is the same," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "There are no breaks. You have to be ready to win every day. It doesn't matter how you go about it. You have to pitch well, score runs and play defense."

This time, though, there is no countdown to a celebration. This time, the Rangers don't carry the swagger of having been to the World Series before. The Athletics are the defending division champions. Yes, there is the fallback position of an AL Wild Card spot, but Texas and Oakland are only 2 1/2 games up on Tampa Bay. The Rangers also found out last year that a Wild Card berth guarantees only one extra game. They would rather not think about that possibility.

As far as a "real possibility" that the Rangers could miss the playoffs, BP currently gives Texas a 94.8% chance of making the playoffs, and FanGraphs gives Texas a 91.5% chance of making the playoffs.  While Sullivan references Tampa, there are two wild card spots, so even if Tampa passes Texas (or Oakland), that wouldn't knock either out of the Wild Card race.  Texas is 5.5 games up on the Yankees and 6 games up on the Indians for the 2nd Wild Card spot, and those are the teams who (as of right now) would be the ones that would push Texas or Oakland out.

Matt Garza hopes that, after a solid start his last time out, he has found his "rhythm" and is back on track.

Richard Durrett writes that Yu Darvish needs to find "an additional gear to reach" to be an ace.

Want to buy Rangers playoff tickets?  The Rangers have announced that you can register now for the opportunity to maybe buy some playoff tickets.