Texas clinched its first American League West title since 1999 on Saturday, as Jorge Cantu broke an eighth inning tie with his first home run in a Rangers uniform, carrying his team to a 4-3 victory.
"I'm a lifer in baseball and I'm a veteran in baseball and I've been around teams that have won divisions," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I do know that you got to keep things in perspective and your main focus is to get to the World Series. But we've accomplished what we needed to accomplish to get an opportunity to do that, and I don't think I'm going to let myself go until we get there."
Texas closer Neftali Feliz recorded the final out in the eighth and worked around a one-out double by Jeremy Hermida in the ninth to earn his 38th save of the season, surpassing the major league record for a rookie set by the Mariners' Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2000.
"We're a step closer to becoming world champs," said Michael Young, who will be going to the postseason for the first time in his career. "We keep having fun right now, but in the back of our minds we know exactly what the ultimate goal is."
Cantu 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Rangers, while starter Derek Holland allowed one run on four hits in five innings. Darren O'Day (5-2) pitched an inning of relief to get the win.
Texas, though, could have its hands full this afternoon when it goes up against Trevor Cahill, who will be shooting for his 18th win of the season. Cahill picked up a win on Tuesday against Chicago, as he allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings to run his record to 17-7, while lowering his earned run average to 2.81.
The 22-year-old Cahill enters the game with the AL lead in opponents' batting average at .210, ranks third in ERA at 2.81 and is one of just four pitchers since 1986 to win 17 or more at age 22 or younger. The last to win more than 17 was Bret Saberhagen in 1985.
Cahill, who has won six straight starts at home, beat the Rangers the last time he faced them and is 6-1 in his young career against them with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts. This season he is 3-0 against them with a 0.68 ERA in four starts.
Texas will counter with righty Colby Lewis, who is 11-13 with a 3.79 ERA. Lewis lost for the eighth time in his last 10 decisions on Tuesday in Anaheim, but pitched well, surrendering just two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 2-0 loss.
Lewis is 2-3 lifetime against the A's with a 3.56 ERA in 11 games, nine of which have been starts.
The Rangers have split their 18 meetings with the A's this season.