Rangers remain poised with title in reach
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are really starting to smell that division title.
"Yes, we can," closer Shawn Tolleson said. "I can, at least."
"It's getting closer, it's approaching," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We're feeling great right now."
They also know it's not over, but a 6-2 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday night, along with the Angels losing to the Athletics, put the Rangers on the verge of their first American League West title since 2011.
The Rangers open a four-game series with the Angels on Thursday night to end the season. The Rangers only need one win to knock the Angels out of the division race. Their magic number over the second-place Astros is two, with Houston off on Thursday, and they can clinch at least a Wild Card berth with a win on Thursday.
"We know there is still unfinished business," Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "We've got four games left; we've got to be ready to play every night."
The Rangers put Wednesday's finale with the Tigers away with three home runs in the first three innings, and then they let the pitching do the rest. After the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, Adrian Beltre tied it in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run off Tigers starter Matt Boyd.
Robinson Chirinos put the Rangers ahead, 3-2, with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the third. The Rangers added another run that inning on a double by Beltre and a single by Prince Fielder, then Mike Napoli finished off the four-spot with a two-run home run. That was it for the night.
Yovani Gallardo, getting past the two-run first, went 5 1/3 innings to get the win and then four relievers finished up. Gallardo, in what was likely his last regular-season outing, finished 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts. The 3.42 ERA is the seventh-lowest by a qualifying Rangers pitcher in one season since the Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994.
"He showed up real well for us tonight," manager Jeff Banister said. "He did what Yovani does. He doesn't give in, and he makes pitches. We are going to look up at the end of the year and be really appreciative of what Yovani has done for us."
He'll likely get the chance to do more once the postseason starts. The Rangers just need to take that final step with the Angels in town.
"You can't help but feel it, but you also believe in the fact these guys are in the now, what's going on right in front of their faces," Banister said.
"It's not hard not to celebrate," Tolleson said. "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."