Chalk up the past week as a successful one for the Rangers, who took 2 of 3 games from Tampa Bay and Cleveland and enjoyed their first off since early August. The team chasing them, though, is riding a nine-game winning streak and lopped 2 1/2 games off the Rangers' division lead.
The Rangers lead Oakland by three games in the American League West entering a new week. The A's see their schedule stiffen some after sweeping seven games from Cleveland and Boston, who currently look as bad or worst than Houston. The Rangers, meanwhile, play a Kansas City team that is showing some of the spunk many preseason prognosticators thought the Royals would have all season, and head to Tampa Bay for three weekend games as the Rays fight for their playoff lives.
The key player for the Rangers this week could very well be Yu Darvish, who will start in each series. He's coming off a nice effort against Tampa Bay last week, working seven scoreless innings, but he tends to struggle the second time he faces a team. He's also better at home than on the road. The Rangers need him to shake both trends.
Jurickson Profar provided the No. 1 offensive highlight in a week in which Adrian Beltre and David Murphy remained hot at the plate. But Profar homered in his first major-league at-bat, becoming the first player in club history to do so, and set imaginations running wild about the future of the Rangers' top prospect.
-- Jeff Wilson