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September 21, 2013

Rangers on outside of playoff picture for first time since 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time in the past four Septembers, the Texas Rangers will enter a game as pursuers in the playoff race.

Their loss Friday and wins by Tampa Bay and Cleveland left the Rangers third in race for one of the two wild-card spots. The deficit to the Rays was just one game, and the Indians were only a half-game clear.

The Rangers haven’t missed the playoffs since 2009.

“We have nine games left,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “If the season ended today, we’re out of the playoffs. But we have a lot of opportunities ahead, and we’re going to try to take advantage.”

Manager Ron Washington has said that he has never seen a team go through a collective slump in all facets of the game like the Rangers have this month. No one area — offense, rotation, bullpen, fielding — has been immune from costing the Rangers a September game.

But the Rangers have continued to stay in the hunt.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Washington said. “As long as there are games left on the schedule, you’ve still got a chance.”

Kinsler said he has theories for the 4-14 start to September, but sees no point in diving into them now.

“Right now, the focus is to get to the playoffs,” he said. “Regardless of the problems with this team or the things we’re doing well, we have to find a way to get in the playoffs."

-- Jeff Wilson

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