OAKLAND -- This was not the weekend the Rangers needed, not for a team that still believes the postseason is a possibility.
A convoluted and crowded American League Wild Card race makes that more of a possibility than anything the Rangers have done lately. They are having trouble just maintaining a winning record, now two games under .500 after an 8-3 loss to the Athletics on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum.
It completed a three-game sweep by the last-place A's, but the Rangers were still able to limp out of Oakland three games behind the Twins in the AL Wild Card race.
"As we are getting closer and there are less games to play, we have to play clean baseball, pitch it well and capitalize on our run-scoring opportunities," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
The weekend woes for the offense included going 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position over the three games, including 1-for-8 on Sunday.
The Rangers also couldn't make up for it with their favorite offensive weapon. Shin-Soo Choo's fifth-inning solo shot Sunday off Athletics starter Jharel Cotton was their only home run in the series.
Hitting the long ball in a ballpark that favors pitchers can be tough. But the Coliseum didn't favor the Rangers' rotation. A.J. Griffin allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings, and the Rangers' starters were 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA in the three games. The A's have the second-lowest batting average in the AL but hit .310 off Rangers starters in the series.
"That's part of the nature of the game," Banister said. "We didn't swing the bats the way we have been, and your starting pitching, against any team, you get your momentum from your starters. This is an Oakland team that has given us challenges in the past and in this ballpark. You can point to a number of things."
Defense also came up big too. The Rangers trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the eighth, but second baseman Rougned Odor made a throwing error on a potential inning-ending double play that led to four runs.
"He's trying to play baseball," Banister said. "He's trying to play hard. I never fault a guy for playing hard. There are mistakes that do happen."
With 32 games left on the schedule, there can't be many more weekends like this one if the Rangers hope to get back above .500 and keep their tenuous postseason hopes intact.