The Rangers, for the sixth game in a row, took care of their own business with a win on Saturday against the Angels. Tangling at the top of the American League Wild Card standings with the Rays and Indians, making it a seventh is ever important for Texas in Sunday's regular-season finale.
With their 7-4 win over the sloppy Angels in Saturday's matinee, Texas is tied with Tampa Bay -- which lost to the Blue Jays -- for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Indians, who beat the Twins for their ninth win in a row, are a game ahead of the Rangers and Rays for the first Wild Card spot.
If the Rangers win and the Rays lose on Sunday, Texas will clinch the second AL Wild Card spot. Under such a scenario, even if the Indians lose, they would host the Rangers for Wednesday's Wild Card Game because they won the season series against Texas. If the Rangers and Rays win and the Indians lose on Sunday, Cleveland will host the Rays on Monday, with the loser of that game facing the Rangers in Texas on Tuesday.
Texas has done everything it can to keep up in the race, winning six straight down the stretch after a 4-13 run from Sept. 4-22.
"We're taking care of business," Rangers closer Joe Nathan said Saturday. "We got to take care of business in this stadium, and today we at least have a better chance now. We got two teams that are at one game. Now we don't have to chase just one team. We can see what two teams are doing and see if we can get a loss out of one of those guys."
The Angels, wrapping up a disappointing season in which they'll finish third in the AL West, have lost five of their last seven. They're 4-14 against Texas this season.
"We didn't play bad games the first two games," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "[Saturday] was a bad game. We're going to focus on playing hard. [On Sunday] I hope we come out and play to the level we're capable of. That's going to be our goal. You always like to finish on a positive note, and we're going to go after it hard tomorrow for that reason."
Things line up favorably for the Rangers, with ace Yu Darvish set to take the mound. He has a 2.22 ERA in his last four starts, but is just 1-2 in that span. Darvish, though, is 3-0 against the Angels this season with a 3.00 ERA. He's labored a bit in his last two starts, walking 10 hitters in 10 1/3 innings, and has now thrown 204 innings this year.
"A game in April is as important as a game in September," Darvish said. "There's no special feeling for me.
"As a professional baseball player, you have to prepare yourself for every game they expect you to pitch. This time is no different."
He'll be opposed Sunday by Angels lefty Jason Vargas, who is looking to enter free agency on a strong note. He has momentum on his side after shutting out the A's in his last start, lowering his ERA from 4.28 to 4.01 with the nine-inning outing.
"If you look at how he's pitched, not only this year, but the last four or five years of his career, he's been as consistent as any pitcher in our league," Scioscia said of Vargas. "I think he's pitched very well for us. There have been some games that have gotten away from him, but for the most part, he's definitely given us a chance when he goes out there."
Vargas has a 2.89 ERA in three starts against the Rangers this season.
Angels: Trout nearing another milestone
With one game remaining, Mike Trout is one double shy of becoming just the fifth player in Major League history with 40 doubles, 30 stolen bases and 100 walks in a season.
Bobby Abreu was the last to do it, in 2006.
• The Angels committed five errors in the first five innings of Saturday's game, bringing their season total to 111.
The five in the game was one short of a franchise high, set in 1963 and '75. The last time they committed five in a game was Sept. 16, 2006, also against the Rangers.
Rangers: Scheppers handling workload
Reliever Tanner Scheppers threw another scoreless inning on Saturday, and has now pitched in four of the Rangers' last five games.
"I think [manager Ron Washington] did a great job managing me this year," Scheppers said. "I got a good break around the All-Star time where he didn't use me for a good amount of time, and I get to learn from the best guys. They take care of their bodies and have taught me how to take care of it, and it prepares me to go every day."
• Darvish is 7-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 18 starts at the Ballpark in Arlington this season.