Defining Dozen: Rangers run the table
The Rangers had a pretty good idea they would have to win all seven games on their final homestand of the regular season to have any chance of making the postseason, or at least get themselves in an American League wild-card tiebreaker game.
And they did just that.
A wild final week at Rangers Ballpark included 20-year-old rookie Jurickson Profar belting a walkoff home run, Alex Rios hitting for the cycle and a four-game sweep of former teammate Josh Hamilton and the rival Los Angeles Angels to close out the seven-game winning streak.
The Rangers' perfect homestand forced a tiebreaker with Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot, which the Rangers ended up losing 5-2 in Game 163 to end their season.
The Rangers entered the week having lost on a Sunday in Kansas City on a walkoff grand slam by Royals outfielder Justin Maxwell. Ron Washington's team had a create some momentum with a three-game series against Houston.
The Astros were the perfect opponent. The Rangers, who were already 14-2 against Houston, built up steam with a 12-0 victory over the Astros on Monday night. Rios hit for the cycle, finishing it off in six innings, and Derek Holland threw a six-hitter.
Then came a 3-2 win on Tuesday as Adrian Beltre homered and a 7-3 victory on Wednesday as rookie Martin Perez won for the 10th time on the season.
The drama continued to unfold Thursday night against the Angels as Profar electrified the crowd with his sixth home run of the season, a towering shot to right field to finish off a 6-5 victory. The Rangers leaned on the bullpen from there, winning three close games. Neal Cotts won two games and Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan pitched in all four games of the series to force the one-game playoff with the Rays.
The Rangers had to have every win as Cleveland ended the season on a 10-game winning streak -- clinching the first wild-card spot. The Rays lost two games over the weekend at Toronto to allow Texas to pull even for the second spot.
"I believe in [momentum]," catcher Geovany Soto said after the game as the Rangers forced a Game 163. "I believe the team is coming together more than ever."
The Rangers didn't beat the Rays, but they did show determination in any forcing the extra game against Tampa Bay.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.