For the first time since divisional play began in 1969, a MLB division is heading into the regular season’s final ten games with only half a game separating three teams. Houston is in first place in the AL West and the Rangers and Mariners are both a half game behind. By fluke of the schedule, Texas plays seven of its last ten against Seattle. Head to head. That means the playoffs start today.
It’s been a wild ride, for sure, to get to this point: meaningful games in September. An incredibly unforeseen blazing hot start, a just as unbelievable free-fall out of the playoff picture, and wildly inconsistent sputtering ever since. Bullpen blowups and season-ending injuries. Five Cy Young awards on the DL. That awful three-game set against Houston. Yet, here we are: meaningful games in September.
Not only does just a half-game separate the Rangers, Astros, and Mariners in the division, but Toronto leads the Rangers and M’s by a half-game in the Wild Card race. Four teams competing for three postseason spots in the next ten days. The Rangers control their own destiny here, especially with seven of their games against Seattle.
If Texas overtakes Houston and wins the AL West — the Astros own the tie-breaker over the Rangers, so Texas would have to finish ahead of Houston — the Rangers would earn a first round bye and host a division series. If they sneak in via the Wild Card route, they would likely play the Twins in a best two-out-of-three series, with all three games in Minnesota.
Yes, this is much more than any of us bargained for when the season began. Yes, for the first time in months, Texas has its All-Star lineup intact and healthy and playing every day. Plus rookie sensation Evan Carter. Yes, the Rangers have Bruce Bochy and all his playoff experience and success at the helm. But it feels like fool’s gold.
The pitching just isn’t there.
Regardless, autumn officially begins tomorrow and the Rangers are still very much in the thick of a division race. If they can take four or five of these final seven games against Seattle, they will likely be in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. And that’s fun no matter how short lived it might be.
The playoffs start tonight.
Let’s Go Rangers!
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