Texas Rangers fall flat in bid for AL West

The Texas Rangers needed a win on Sunday to clench the AL West, but unfortunately, the bats went missing. They now head to St. Petersburg to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card series.
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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With their sites set on claiming the AL West yesterday, the Texas Rangers came up short. They dropped game 162 of the regular season 1 to 0 at the hands of the Seattle Mariners. With the loss, and the subsequent win by the Astros over the Diamondbacks, the Rangers and Astros finished the season with identical 90-72 records. Because Houston held the tiebreaker over Texas, they are the AL West champions and the Rangers drop down to the 5th seed in the American League.

The game was a typical getaway game, but this time one of the teams was getting away for the season and the other (the Rangers) was trying to win a division. In just a matter of 2 hours and 1 minute, the Rangers' hopes of the division title were dashed. Pitching was the order of the day.

Dane Dunning impressive on short rest

Taking the ball on just three days rest, Dane Dunning was tremendous. He ended up going 3 1/3 innings, before running into some issues in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded Martin Perez came in and got a slow grounder to Nathaniel Lowe at first base. Lowe fielded the ground ball and stepped on first base at the same time before firing it home. Unfortunately, Jonah Heim's swipe tag came in just in front of the sliding Eugenio Suarez. He slid in safely as the glove had already gone by, scoring the first and only run of the game.

In hindsight, if Lowe had just fired the ball home without stepping on first base, there would have been a force play at home, and the run would not have scored. First off, if he had done this, there is no guarantee that Seattle wouldn't end up scoring anyway as they would still have the bases loaded. Secondly, his throw beat the runner, the tag was just a quick swipe tag and Heim's glove went in front of the runner. It was a tough play to lose a game of this magnitude on, but we didn't score at all, so it really wouldn't have mattered much.

George Kirby went six innings and was brilliant for the Mariners. He kept the Rangers guessing and causing weak contact if they actually did hit the baseball. Kirby ended the day allowing only three hits, walked none, and struck out seven Rangers.

Seattle's bullpen was equally as good. Top prospect Prelander Berroa, Trent Thorton, and Isaiah Campbell each threw an inning a piece of scoreless ball. The lone hit given up by this trio was by Campbell in the ninth inning to rookie phenom, Evan Carter.

In fact, Carter had two of the four Rangers hits on the day. When he reached base in the ninth ahead of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, it looked promising for a brief moment. A Semien strikeout followed by a Seager flyout, and then a Mitch Garver flyout was all she wrote for the Rangers. Both teams combined for only eight hits, one walk, and 21 strikeouts. It was not a fun day to be a hitter in Seattle.

Texas Rangers to face Tampa Bay Rays to open playoffs

Texas will not have long to sulk over their defeat, as they are set to play the Tampa Bay Rays starting on Tuesday. The first two games will be at 2:08 CT on ABC, and the Thursday game (if needed) will be at the same time unless there are less games that day and it would then be moved to a later time slot.

Coming up short of the AL West title, should not bring the Rangers down. There is no doubt that they were upset and frustrated with themselves as they flew out of Seattle, but I am willing to bet, that by the time they got checked into their hotel, they were totally focused on taking care of business against the Rays. This team has been on an up-and-down path for just about the entire season. With the fresh start of the playoffs, let's just see if this Rangers team can get on a heater and make some noise.

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