BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas lost to Oakland Monday afternoon 4-2, the fourth straight game in which the Rangers have tallied exactly two runs. The Rangers have lost three of those four, while Oakland has won their last four to erase the Rangers’ three game lead and throw the American League West into a flat footed tie at the top with 79-58 records. The Rangers are 0-2 in September after a marvelous August in which they won 20 games and lost seven. It was the first August in franchise history for the Rangers to win 20, and just the fourth time in franchise history that the team has won as many as 20 games in a calendar month.

Texas scored 158 runs in August, the most of any team in the Majors. The offense clicked despite the absence of Nelson Cruz, lost for the last 25 games to suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. Adrian Beltre was a big reason for the offensive surge. He hit .381 with five home runs, 21 RBIs and 20 runs scored. It was the highest monthly batting average in Beltre’s career, and he was named the Rangers’ Player of the Month for August. A. J. Pierzynski also hit .310 with four home runs and 20 RBIs, while Elvis Andrus hit .303 with 11 stolen bases, 18 runs scored and 16 RBIs in August.

The pitching was also outstanding. Rookie left-hander Martin Perez led the way with a 5-0 record and 3.06 ERA in five August starts. He is the first Ranger rookie pitcher to win five games in a month. Overall, the team has allowed five runs or less in 30 consecutive games (and counting), the longest such streak in Ranger history and in American League history since the designated hitter was introduced in 1973.

The Rangers’ August record was certainly aided by the schedule. Texas beat Oakland on August 4 to close out a three game series. Until meeting the A’s again on Monday, the Rangers had not played a team with a winning record since August 4. They were 17-7 between games with Oakland to erase what was once a six game Oakland lead in July and take the division lead. Oakland played 15 games against teams with winning records in between series with the Rangers and finished the stretch 14-11.

Unfortunately for Texas, the schedule advantage now flips to Oakland for the final 25 games of the year. The Athletics face the Rangers twice more this week and three times in Arlington over the weekend of September 14. Their other 20 remaining games are against teams with losing records. Meanwhile, Texas has not only five games left with Oakland, but ten more against teams with winning records: three with Pittsburgh, four against Tampa Bay, and three with Kansas City.

Either Oakland or Texas will be the West Division champion. The other will likely participate in the Wild Card play-in game to be the non-division winner among the final four American League teams in the playoffs. A year ago, Oakland trailed Texas by five games with nine left to play. Six of those nine were against the Rangers, and the A’s won five to take the division championship on the last day of the season. This year’s race could well go down to the last day again, but it won’t be because of head-to-head play. The Rangers and Athletics do not play each other in the final two weeks – 14 games – of the season.

NOTES: Jim Adduci and Neftali Feliz appeared in games this weekend for the Rangers bringing the total number of players that have appeared in Ranger games this year to 46 (22 position players and 24 pitchers)….The Rangers expanded their roster to 32 with seven additions this weekend. They are Accuci, Feliz, Robinson Chirinos, Michael Kirkman, Cory Burns, Nick Tepesch and Lance Berkman….Texas plans to add three more players on Tuesday: Outfielders Engel Beltre and Joey Butler and pitcher Ross Wolf….After Monday’s loss, the Rangers are 19-22 all time on Labor Day. Since the Rangers arrived in Arlington, they were not scheduled to play on Labor Day in four seasons, and they have played Labor Day double headers in three years….Of the 25 remaining games, Texas plays 12 on the road and 13 at home….Texas is 18-20 in day games this year. Seven of the remaining 25 games are day games including three with Oakland.

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