An improbable run has put the Texas Rangers on the verge of winning the AL West. A victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night in the first of a four-game set at Globe Life Park in Arlington would lock up at least a Wild Card berth, and another win on Friday would clinch the division.
Though they have a magic number of just two and are close to punching a ticket to the postseason, the Rangers know they have to take a step back and focus on the task at hand. Subduing Mike Trout and the recently-red-hot Angels is on their team to-do list.
After they took down the Detroit Tigers again on Wednesday night, shortstop Elvis Andrus admitted to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that they're feeling pretty good at the moment: "It's getting closer, it's approaching. We're feeling great right now."
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First baseman Mitch Moreland reiterated the need to slow things down and not get ahead of themselves: "We know there is still unfinished business. We've got four games left; we've got to be ready to play every night."
Platitudes aside, Moreland's perspective is right-on. The Rangers shouldn't be envisioning a postgame clubhouse celebration just yet, even as tantalizingly close as it may be.
"It's not hard not to celebrate," reliever Shawn Tolleson told Sullivan. "We haven't done it yet. The thought of it is exciting, but that helps us stay focused until we accomplish something. We're really close, but we know crazier things have happened. We'll celebrate when it is time to celebrate. Right now we have to stay focused."
Starting pitcher Derek Holland, who will face the Angels on Thursday, told the Star-Telegram's Stefan Stevenson that he's hardly surprised the Rangers, Angels and Houston Astros are in a dogfight for a postseason spot: "I'm not surprised by anybody. Heck, I bet a lot of people are surprised that we're in first place. We have to worry about ourselves. If we go out there and we win then we control our own destiny, we don't have to worry about theirs."
The comments by Holland, Moreland, Tolleson and Andrus provide a glimpse into the mindset of the Rangers as they center their thoughts on taking care of business on the field and putting a cap on the remarkable run they've been on for a few weeks now.