BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

Texas lost to Oakland Thursday afternoon, 4-3, before returning to Arlington for the final three home games of the regular season.  Other than that, the day went as well as it could for Ranger fans.

In Toronto, Edwin Encarnacion hit a line drive down the left field line that cleared the fence in the 12th inning for a walk-off 4-3 win over Los Angeles.  The Angels’ loss reduced the Rangers’ magic number to two.  Texas remains five games ahead in the West Division, now with six games left in the season.  The Angels also fell into third place in the Wild Card race, where they trail Boston by three games and Tampa Bay by one

In Detroit, the “Fighting Showalters” (A/K/A Baltimore) beat the Tigers 6-5.  A pair of ex-Rangers made significant contributions for the Orioles.  Chris Davis was 2-4, and Pedro Strop threw a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two Tiger batters.  Texas and Detroit remain tied at 90-66 in the battle to play the Wild Card with home field advantage in the Division Series, as opposed to travelling to New York to open the playoffs as the number three seed in the tournament.

In Oakland Colby Lewis turned in a start that gave his team a chance to win – 6.1 innings pitched, three earned runs allowed on four hits, one of which was a home run to Oakland rookie Jemile Weeks, his first in the Majors.  Lewis struck out seven, walked two, and probably secured his position in the post-season rotation.

If Lewis is in fact in the rotation, he needs to pitch on the road.  For the season, Lewis’ ERA is more than two runs better on the road than in Arlington – 3.35 to 5.54, where he has allowed 22 of his league leading 35 home runs.  That would make him the number two starter if the Rangers begin in New York, or the number three or four starter if the Rangers start the playoffs at home.

Mike Adams gave up the winning run in the eighth and took the loss.  The Oakland win ended the Rangers’ four game winning streak; but still Texas won this series two games to one, and took the season series with the A’s 13-6.

Texas sends Matt Harrison (13-9, 3.42) to the mound Friday night to face the Mariners and Anthony Vasquez (1-4, 8.25), who will be making his sixth Major League start.  A Rangers’ win clinches a tie for the division championship.  A win coupled with a Los Angeles loss clinches the championship outright.  Champagne will flow soon!

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