ARLINGTON, Texas —
Just a week ago, Texas had a four-game division lead with six to play after splitting a four-game series at home against Oakland. The Rangers lost five of those last six games, including a three-game sweep this week against the A’s, who clinched the division title on the last day of the regular season with a 12-5 victory.
The Rangers had a 5-1 lead in the season finale before Oakland’s big comeback, including center fielder Josh Hamilton missing a popup for a two-base error with two outs that allowed two runs to score and broke a 5-all tie.
The 4-9 span is their worst such slide of the season. The only other time they were swept in a three-game series was the first week of July at the Chicago White Sox.
“Just like any of our fans or anyone involved with our organization, there was a level of disappointment at first. A chance to win the division, and we couldn’t put it away,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Then you take a step back and realize there are 20 teams that would kill to be where we are right now and would trade places with us in a heartbeat. ... We’ve got one of our best pitchers on the mound at home.”
While Darvish (16-9) is a rookie in the majors, the 26-year-old starter had plenty of postseason experience before the Rangers. He was 8-2 with a 1.38 ERA and five complete games in 11 postseason starts for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2006-11.