ARLINGTON -- The Rangers participated in batting practice with the video board tuned to the Orioles and Rays game Monday. Texas entered its three-game set against the Astros 2 1/2 games behind the Rays, who beat Baltimore, for the top American League Wild Card spot and 1 1/2 games behind the Indians for the final playoff spot.
While the club needs some help to make its fourth consecutive postseason appearance, the players were focused on their final seven games against the Astros and Angels.
"It's going to be an exciting week," Alex Rios said. "We know what we have to do: win games. We're still optimistic about our chances. We're ready to go. We just have to do the best we can in that particular game. We can't focus on the big picture. We need to focus on the little things and we'll be all right if we are able to do that."
Texas gained a half-game on Cleveland, which had an off-day, with a 12-0 win over the Astros. However, the club has witnessed its Wild Card lead evaporate in September. The Rangers once had a 5 1/2-game lead for the top Wild Card position through Sept. 5, but they lost 12 of 16 games to drop out of a playoff position. Despite the September slump, David Murphy doesn't want the club to press during the final week of the season.
"I just think knowing the result that happens when you press, I don't think you ever a see a team that presses play well," Murphy said. "A team that presses does not play loose. This group of guys does better when they're loose, easy going and having fun."
With the final seven games at home, for most clubs that'd be an added bonus in this situation. For the Rangers, however, they entered Monday's game on a seven-game losing streak at home. They've won just one of their last six series at Rangers Ballpark since Aug. 13.
"It's one of those things where you can't control things that are going on around the league," Joe Nathan said. "All you can do is try to win games within this clubhouse at this stadium right now. I think that's still got to be the main concern, because we haven't been doing a good job of that. It doesn't matter what goes on around the league, if we don't take care what goes on in this stadium, then we'll find ourselves packing and going home sooner than we'd like."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.