Usually, any time the Oakland Athletics face the Texas Rangers, the series is magnified a touch. Competitively, the two American League West rivals have matched one another win for win over the years; the A’s have won the last two division crowns, while the Rangers won the two prior.
This year was expected to be another wire-to-wire battle between these two divisional adversaries. However, the Rangers have experienced an incredibly disappointing 2014 season, the result of unpredictable performances and a rash of injuries. The team has never been at full strength and has limped short-handedly through the entire season.
It has been so devastating that the Rangers have actually fallen into the cellar of the AL West, below and behind the perennially lowly Houston Astros. In fact, heading into the weekend series against Oakland, Texas actually had the worst record in all of baseball at 40-62.
The Rangers’ precipitous decline, however, does not affect the competitiveness or the intensity between these two ballclubs. And with the A’s at the complete opposite end of the spectrum—owners of baseball’s best record—the pressure was on the mighty Athletics to put the lifeless Rangers away with ease.
The A's did take two of three from the lowly Rangers. It probably felt good to win a road series. It probably was disappointing to not sweep against the worst team in baseball. It probably also felt weird to see a Texas team that has been so thorny for the past half-decade become the hapless team that it currently is right now, zombie-ing its way toward the finish line for the last two-plus months of the season.
Yet for a team like Oakland, one that has dreams of a World Series championship, there's no time for sympathy—especially for one of its divisional rivals.
Here are five things learned from the Oakland A’s series against the Texas Rangers.