The Texas Rangers led the Oakland A's by 13 games on June 30. They led by five games with nine to play. They led by two with three to play.
And now it's all gone. One game -- Game No. 162 of the regular season -- will determine the AL West winner after the Rangers fell to the A's 3-1 on Tuesday. Win and the Rangers could still end up as the No. 1 seed in the AL playoff. Lose and they are almost certain to end up with the bottom wild-card spot.
Ryan Dempster will pitch for the Rangers against Oakland's A.J. Griffin on Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm looking forward to it," Rangers veteran infielder Michael Young said. "The whole year has been a great challenge all along. Let's keep it going. There is no point in thinking about what has happened. We've got a huge opportunity."
Inside the Texas clubhouse following Tuesday's loss, the mood was quiet and serious but not somber. There was no long team meeting following the game, and most players ate their meals in the open spaces in the clubhouse. Manager Ron Washington addressed the team, but only briefly and only to say that he believed in his club.
Most of the key players were also available for interviews.
"It's not like we are trying to lose," said outfielder Josh Hamilton, who had the Rangers' only RBI on a two-out, 0-and-2 double in the third inning. "We are playing good baseball and they are playing good baseball. It's a long schedule, and it's amazing that it comes down to 162. Hopefully we can deliver a little more offense."
Young added, "The season is not over. We've got a chance to improve our position. We've played in big games before. We know what is at stake. It fuels the competitive fire."