After recording a crucial 9-7 win over the Oakland A's Thursday, the Texas Rangers have built a four-game lead in the American League West and reduced their magic number for clinching the division to three. Oakland remains a potential spoiler, while the Los Angeles Angels can do no better than tie the Rangers at this point.
Even with their current lead, the Rangers are far from certain to take the division. In fact, their schedule will do its best to keep things interesting. Texas opens a three-game set with the Angels Friday, as Los Angeles desperately tries to remain in the playoff hunt.
In the meantime, Oakland begins a six-game homestand with a visit from the less-than-daunting Seattle Mariners Friday. If the race remains in doubt after those two series, it will be decided on the field when Texas closes the season with three games at Oakland.
Even if they fail to win their division, the Rangers are virtually assured of making the postseason.
In the worst-case scenario -- the Rangers lose all six games, while the Angels and A's win their six -- Texas would face the Angels in Anaheim in a play-in game with a chance to win the second wild card spot.