OAKLAND -- The Rangers clubhouse was eerily quiet on Friday night after a 4-1 loss to the Athletics at the Coliseum. It was a stark contrast to the laughter and music following their three-game sweep of the Mariners this week in Seattle.
But that's the way it is in late September, when teams are fighting for a spot in postseason. Every loss can be tough to take, especially when a team is running out of time.
"It's just the first game of the series … but we haven't been able to play good baseball in Oakland," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We've got to straighten that out. Tomorrow is a big game."
The Rangers have lost six straight games in Oakland and this one dropped them to 3 1/2 games behind the Twins, and tied with the Angels, in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Rangers have nine games left.
"I don't know that wind's taken out of our sails yet," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "At the end of the day tomorrow, we could quite possibly be back to 2 1/2 games back. You've got to continue to play this game. The game of baseball is such that there are nights, and unfortunately, we had one of those nights here in late September."
Six of the Rangers' last nine games are against the Athletics. Normally playing a last-place team is a good thing, but the Athletics have become one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning 12 of their last 15 games.
The Twins, on the hand, are having their way with the Tigers, a club that has lost 18 of its last 22 and just announced manager Brad Ausmus will not be back next season. Those two teams play five more times.
The Athletics took a 2-0 lead in the second when Khris Davis drew a walk and Matt Olson followed with a two-run home run. After Shin-Soo Choo hit a home run in the top of the third, an error by third baseman Drew Robinson led to an unearned run in the bottom of the inning.
"You've got to limit the free opportunities for them to have baserunners," Banister said. "We know they're a club that can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We make a mistake there to Olson and it's two runs on the board quickly. We mishandled a ball at third base … those situations, against this ballclub right now, they're playing well and they seem to be able to capitalize on them."
The Rangers could not do the same. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Rougned Odor was 0-for-3, leaving six runners stranded.
"Obviously, he hasn't necessarily had the season, as far as run production is concerned," Banister said. "But we're at the part now where you've got to be able to wash those off. I know that he wants to do it as badly as anybody, and I know he understands the situation, where we're at. I think, for any of our guys in those situations, if we don't capitalize, they seem bigger at this point, however, he's got to wash that out and be ready to go tomorrow."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.