KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers found themselves in an unusual position when they arrived at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday. For the first time since September 2009, they were not in a position to make the playoffs either by leading their division or having one of two best records in the American League Wild Card standings.
The Rangers began the day in third place in the Wild Card standings, one game behind the Rays and a half-game behind the Indians. The Rangers and Indians were tied in the loss column, but the Rangers haven't been in this position since 2009.
"We still have nine games left," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "If the season ended today, yeah, we wouldn't be in the playoffs, but we still have a lot of opportunity ahead of us and we'll try to take advantage of it.
"There are a lot of reasons why we're in the position we're in, but that's beside the point. Right now, the focus is on getting to the playoffs. Regardless of the problems on the team or the things we're doing really well, we have to find a way to play and get wins and have a chance to get to the World Series."
The Rangers led the AL West by three games on Aug. 29 but went into Saturday's games having lost 15 of their last 20 games. That knocked them out of the lead in the West and they were 7 1/2 games behind the Athletics going into Saturday's action.
Right now, the Rangers are just trying to finish as one of two Wild Card teams. But they were only two games ahead of the Royals and Orioles, as well, when play began Saturday.
"As long as there are games on the schedule, we have a chance," manager Ron Washington said. "We just have to go out and get it done. I expect to be there."
Gentry gets start in left field for Rangers
KANSAS CITY -- Rangers manager Ron Washington, trying to get some production out of left field, had Craig Gentry in there on Saturday night even with a right-hander on the mound for the Royals. Gentry gets most of his starts against left-handed pitchers, but he did have a four-hit game on Thursday in Tampa Bay.
"I've been trying to get as many left-handed hitters in there against right-handers, and it hasn't been working," Washington said. "I decided to try something else."
Gentry was the fourth starting left fielder for the Rangers in four games. David Murphy, who started there on Friday and went 1-for-3, was at designated hitter on Saturday. The Rangers have had eight different players start in left this year, as opposed to five in 2012. Murphy and Josh Hamilton combined to start 158 of 162 games at the position last season.
Because of Murphy and Hamilton, Rangers left-fielders had an .899 OPS in 2012, the fourth-highest mark in club history from the position. This season, Texas left-fielders have combined for a .709 OPS, the fifth-lowest mark in club history.
Rangers' Perez OK after line drive to arm
KANSAS CITY -- Pitcher Martin Perez said he was fine on Saturday, one day after getting hit in the left forearm by a Billy Butler line drive. Perez still had a red mark from the fifth-inning shot on Friday, but no swelling or lingering pain.
"Nothing. … I feel good," Perez said.
Butler got an infield hit on the play, putting runners on first and second. Manager Ron Washington and trainer Kevin Harmon checked on Perez but he insisted he could stay in the game. He got Salvador Perez on a line drive to third to end the inning.
Perez admitted it was a scary moment. He was hit in the left forearm on March 3 in a Cactus League game by a live drive, suffered a fractured arm and was sidelined for two months. It kept him from being in the Rangers' Opening Day lineup.
"I just thought, 'Wow! Again,'" Perez said. "But after the ball hit me, I moved my hand and it felt good. I told Wash I wanted to continue. … I said I got this out."
Perez ended up going 5 2/3 innings and left with the score tied at 1. His next start is on Wednesday against the Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Cotts historically good at quelling opposition
KANSAS CITY -- With 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Friday night, reliever Neal Cotts lowered his ERA to 1.04 on the season. Going into Saturday, that was the lowest ERA for a qualifying reliever in the American League. Koji Uehara is second with a 1.14 ERA.
"I have been lucky," Cotts said. "I've left some runners out there the past few weeks and [Tanner] Scheppers has picked me up. Other than that, I just attack hitters and go from there. I really don't pay attention to all of that. I just focus on what's going on, take a lead to the end and get the ball to Joe Nathan. You can't think about any of that. You just go out and play hard and let it all fall in the end."
The 1.04 ERA is also the lowest by a qualifying reliever in Rangers history. To be listed as a qualifier, a reliever must average 0.30 innings per each game his team played. Cotts appeared in 52 innings and 52 appearances over the Rangers' first 153 games even though he wasn't called up from Triple-A Round Rock until May 21.
Prior to this season, the lowest ERA by a Rangers reliever was 1.57 by Jim Kern in 1979. Right now, Kern is third because Joe Nathan has a 1.53 ERA.
Cotts' 1.04 ERA is tied for the 14th lowest by a reliever since 1946. Rollie Fingers had a 1.04 ERA when he won the Cy Young Award for the Brewers in 1981. The lowest ERA was 0.60 by Fernando Rodney with the Rays last season. Cotts needs 2 1/3 scoreless innings to be the 12th pitcher to have an ERA under 1.00 since 1946.
• Perez took a no-decision on Friday night despite allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings. It was the 11th time this season that a Rangers pitcher has allowed one or no runs in a start of at least five innings and took a no-decision. That ties for the most in club history.
• Adrian Beltre went into Saturday's game with a team-leading 28 home runs but hadn't gone deep since Aug. 28. Since 1991, Juan Gonzalez's first full season, the Rangers have had just one year when they didn't have at least one player hit 30 home runs. That was in 2007, when Sammy Sosa led with 21.
• Friday's 2-1 loss was the Rangers' sixth straight in one-run games. Six of their last nine losses have been by one run.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.