OAKLAND, Calif. -- The American League West, at this point, would be difficult for the Texas Rangers to not win for a second consecutive season.
Even though second-place Los Angeles won its game Tuesday night at Toronto before the Rangers even took the field at O.co Coliseum, time and games are dwindling.
But because games are left to be played, the Rangers aren't getting greedy.
They would like to pass Detroit for the No. 2 playoff seed and home-field advantage for the AL Division Series, but that's not their focus.
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Of more importance is wrapping up the division title before the final series of the season, three games Monday-Sept. 28 at Angel Stadium, and using the final few games to get the team ready for the ALDS.
"That's been the goal all along," first baseman Michael Young said Tuesday, before the first of three games against Oakland.
"We want to make sure we take business first, and that's making sure we get into the postseason."
The Rangers, who held a 4 1/2-game lead pending the outcome of their game against the A's, can be excused for looking ahead with the West title within reach.
They learned last year that the sooner the title is wrapped up, the sooner they can get players rest and set up the rotation for the postseason. That ranks higher on the priority list than getting past the Tigers.
"That [passing the Tigers] can't be part of your mindset," manager Ron Washington said. "If we just play and win, that'll take care of itself. I don't think we're that good to be thinking we better win 95 ballgames. We better just win today."
Should the Rangers clinch by Sunday, C.J. Wilson would pitch only three to five innings Monday against the Angels because that game would have no bearing on the West race.
A short outing would allow him to pitch Game 1 of the ALDS.
Washington also wants to get the Rangers' key contributors at least a game off before the season ends. For now, they won't rest until the West is won.
"If we clinch, I'm going to have to get some guys a day or so off," Washington said. "Yes, you want to win as many ballgames as you can. But the most important thing is that we have these guys healthy."
The Rangers entered Tuesday a game behind Detroit, but need to finish a game ahead of the AL Central champions. Should the teams finish with the same record, the Tigers would get the home field because they hold the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series.
While opening the playoffs at home would be the perfect scenario, the Rangers also learned last year that a lack of home-field advantage isn't a death sentence.
They won three times at Tropicana Field to knock off Tampa Bay in the 2010 ALDS.
The Rangers gave themselves a chance because they had time to get the team rested and the pitching staff ready.
"We all want to clinch as soon as possible," Young said. "Last year, it worked out extremely well. We got to get guys rest, set up our rotation, and we saw how that worked out in the first round.
"We would love to have home-field advantage, without a doubt. So would Detroit, so would every team. That goes without saying, but we don't want to put too much on our plate."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760