Gaining ground in the playoff race has seemingly become impossible for the Texas Rangers.
Though they have a better record than the Minnesota Twins, the Rangers surely would trade places with them as these teams open a three-game set at the Metrodome.
The Rangers have won 12 of 16, but all three teams they are chasing for a playoff spot have been even hotter.
Texas is 3 1/2 games back of AL West-leading Oakland, which has won 12 of 13, and two behind Anaheim, which has won nine of 10. The Rangers are three games behind Boston, which currently owns the AL wild card spot and has won 12 of 13.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has lost four of six, but owns a seven-game lead in the AL Central.
These clubs split a four-game series last week, with each team scoring 22 runs.
The only run Rangers closer Francisco Cordero has allowed in 12 1-3 innings this month came last Tuesday in his only appearance of that series, but he got the win because Twins closer Joe Nathan blew a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.
Cordero converted his club-record 21st straight save Saturday, giving him 42 for the season.
“I think 40 saves is something to be proud of because I know a lot of closers do not get to 40 saves,” Cordero said. “But I don’t think too much about that unless somebody brings it up. The goal right now is to go to the playoffs.”
Nathan, arguably the best closer in baseball this season before struggling last week, may benefit from having not pitched in a game the last five days. He’s 0-2 with two blown saves in his last four appearances, giving up seven runs and 10 hits with four walks in 3 1-3 innings.
Nathan had to escape a bases-loaded jam to get the save in his last game, Wednesday’s 8-5 win at Texas.
Ryan Drese, the Rangers’ best starter since the All-Star break, was the loser in that contest, giving up a career-high 13 hits and seven runs over a season-low 3 2-3 innings. The sinkerballer does not expect to have the same problems in the rematch because many of Minnesota’s hits were infield singles and choppers that sneaked into the outfield.
“I had the worst luck of my life tonight,” Drese said. “I never at any level of baseball in my entire life experienced anything like this. I made some good pitches, got some weak grounders, but they got hits on every single one.”