The Rangers join the Royals, Blue Jays and Orioles as four AL teams that have not been in the playoffs in this decade. Texas last made the playoffs in 1999 when it won its third division title in four years.
The Rangers, at 85-72 with five games left, are going to finish with their second winning record in the past 10 years. They are also in position to finish in second place for the second straight season after not finishing higher than third in the previous eight.
The Rangers have been in second place for 81 straight days, going back to July 11. They were in first place from May 6 to June 26 and were as much as 4 1/2 games ahead of the rest of the division. But they went 51-47 in their last 98 games and were unable to keep up with the Red Sox and the Angels.
There is one other team goal within their reach. If they could close the season with a five-game winning streak, they would win 90 games for only the fourth time in club history.
"Our goal right now is to finish in second place and win as many games as we can," Washington said.
The Rangers will be without Josh Hamilton and possibly Marlon Byrd for the final stretch. Hamilton has been shut down because of the pinched nerve in his lower back and Byrd had to leave Tuesday's game with a strained hip capsule on his right side. He was replaced by Craig Gentry, and it's unknown if Byrd will play again this season.
The question is if this was his last appearance with the Rangers. Byrd is a free agent after the season and re-signing him is one of the Rangers winter priorities.
"We have to sign Marlon Byrd," third baseman Michael Young said. "No question about it."
The other Rangers free agents include catcher Ivan Rodriguez, first baseman Hank Blalock, pitcher Eddie Guardado, outfielder Andruw Jones and infielder Omar Vizquel. So is forgotten reliever Joaquin Benoit, who had shoulder surgery last offseason and never pitched for the Rangers this year.
Guardado said he is likely to retire. Rodriguez and Vizquel both say they want to keep playing. Re-signing Rodriguez is also on the Rangers' offseason list of possibilities.
"I want to stay here and finish my career here," Rodriguez said.
Among the Rangers' priorities will be to add a right-handed bat and to reinforce the bullpen. They could use another left-handed reliever. But for the most part, the 2010 Rangers will look very similar to the one that was in the running for a playoff spot going into the final week of the season.
They will just be a little more experienced having gone through the rigors and pressure of a real pennant race.