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Extra Bases: Time to protect home park

9/9/2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Win at home.

That's all the Rangers need to do if they want to overtake the Oakland A's, who start Monday with a 1 1/2-game lead over Texas in the American League West.

Look, we're all aware that Oakland's schedule for the final three weeks is soft with only one team on it with a winning record -- your Rangers, who will welcome the A's to Arlington for the weekend in a highly anticipated series.

The A's keep winning, taking care of business by winning three straight over the weekend from lowly Houston. Assume Oakland will take care of Minnesota starting Tuesday at Target Field. The Twins are on a four-game losing streak.

The Rangers can offset Oakland's schedule advantage by winning at home. Texas plays 13 of its final 20 at Rangers Ballpark. These first six against Pittsburgh and Oakland are daunting, even though the Pirates were swept over the weekend by St. Louis to lose their hold on first place to the Cardinals.

The mystery of this season is the Rangers' inconsistent play at home. They've been a dominant team in their own ballpark since their 2010 World Series season, winning at least 50 games at home three years in a row. The result has been three playoff trips and two World Series appearances.

The Rangers are 39-29 at home this season. That's a .574 winning percentage. Oakland (47-27) has .635 winning percentage at home. Boston has 47 home wins. Detroit has 44.

The Rangers have lost a lot of ground to the best teams in the American League because their record has dipped at home.

Pittsburgh's trio of Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett will provide a stiff test. Sunday will bring Oakland's Jarrod Parker, who hasn't lost since May.

The Rangers' final seven home games -- after a trip to Tampa Bay and Kansas City -- will come against Houston and Los Angeles, two teams they have dominated this season.

Talk of another Rangers collapse in September as they struggled in Oakland and Anaheim was premature. That watch shouldn't start until Texas fails at home in its own park in front of its own fans.

The Rangers haven't had their mojo at home this season, even with three walk-off wins against the Angels in July and two series wins against Oakland.

Now's the time to get it.

WHAT'S UP NOW: Rapid reaction from Sunday's clutch 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

ON DECK: Yu Darvish (12-7, 2.91 ERA) looks for his first win in five starts on Monday night when he faces Pittsburgh rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole (6-7, 3.74) at 7:05 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: A simple one -- will the Rangers overtake the Oakland A's in the American League West?