Bring on the Texas Rangers.
The 2013 Oakland Athletics have 26 games left in the regular season, and six of those games will be against the American League West division rival Rangers -- who lead the A's by one game currently in the standing.
And starting today, Oakland hosts Texas for three games at the O.co Coliseum, which will go a long way towards determining the AL West division title this season.
The Rangers won the West in 2010 and 2011 on their way to two straight AL pennants, but last season, the upstart A's overcame a big deficit late and beat the Rangers three straight in the final series of the season to claim the division title in dramatic fashion.
These three games and a triple set in Texas from September 13-15 are going to be huge.
Texas sends lefty Derek Holland (9-6, 3.00 ERA) to the Coliseum mound against Oakland's Dan Straily (7-7, 4.41 ERA) for the Labor Day matinee, and while the matchup appears to favor the Rangers, the A's are coming off a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays having won six of seven overall.
Meanwhile, the visiting squad lost two of three at home to the lowly Minnesota Twins over the weekend.
Sunday's 5-1 Oakland win featured strong performances on the mound from A.J. Griffin (seven innings, one run, seven strikeouts) and beleaguered bullpen mates Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook (two scoreless innings total).
At the plate, Jed Lowire, Yoenis Cespedes and Daric Barton each had two hits, while Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt both hit solo home runs.
So in the last week, the A's have outscored Detroit and Tampa Bay -- two of the best teams in the AL -- by a combined 45-25 score while posting six wins in those seven games (the only loss being a ninth-inning blown save by Grant Balfour last Thursday in Detroit).
Oakland will want to continue that hot streak just a little bit longer this week against the Rangers.
Note: On Sunday, the Oakland organizations raised $61,395 on A’s Breast Cancer Awareness Day with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and Cancer Prevention Institute of California. Since the inaugural event in 1999, the Oakland A’s and their partners have raised more than $1.3 million for breast cancer education and research. Funds were raised through the sale of special ticket packages, commemorative pins, hats, pink jerseys, heart ribbon pendants, an A's autographed quilt raffle, and fan and sponsor support. This year’s total donation eclipsed last year’s total by nearly 15 percent.