9/30 update: Texas certainly isn’t making this easy. The Rangers have dropped each of their first two games in Seattle — getting routed on Friday night, 8-0 — and keeping the Mariners alive in both the division and Wild Card races. Texas still needs just a single win to clinch a playoff spot: Even if Houston could still catch them in the AL West by virtue of winning the season series, the Rangers would still be guaranteed a postseason berth by eliminating the Mariners. Their magic number for the division, meanwhile, is two: Any combination of two wins or two Astros losses would seal the deal.
Hard as it is to believe, we’ve officially reached the final weekend of the 2023 MLB regular season. Five of the league’s six divisional races have been decided, but there’s still plenty to be settled over the next few days — including the AL Wild Card and AL West races, both of which involve the Texas Rangers. Texas pulled into the catbird’s seat in the division with last weekend’s home sweep of the Mariners, and they remain there as they finish this season out in Seattle with three huge games this weekend. Let’s take a look at where the Rangers stand with a three days left in the season and their magic number to seal up a postseason berth.
Rangers’ magic number
AL West: 2
Texas had a golden opportunity to take some steam out of this weekend and punch their ticket to October — whether as division champs or as a Wild Card team — only to fritter it away with a 3-2 walk-off loss on Thursday night. Still, the Rangers are in good shape: Texas remains two games up on Houston and three up on Seattle, their primary competition both in the West and for one of the two remaining Wild Card spots. One more win in their last three, and the Rangers are guaranteed at least a Wild Card berth — neither the Astros nor Mariners can get to 90 wins, meaning they’d be at worst the third Wild Card team behind the Rays and Blue Jays. (Given that Texas won the season series over Toronto, they’ll likely be the fifth seed and face the fourth-seeded Rays in the Wild Card round.)
The Rangers would like to avoid all that by just winning the division and securing the two-seed, though. They can eliminate the Mariners with one win, and they can eliminate the Astros with any combination of two Texas wins and Houston losses. If the Rangers go 1-2 in their last three and Houston sweeps the D-backs in Arizona, the Astros take the division by virtue of holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over Texas. If Texas gets swept and Houston goes 2-1 this weekend, we have a three-way tie, with the Mariners getting the nod by virtue of having the superior combined record against the other two teams.
AL West standings
1. Texas Rangers (89-71)
2. Houston Astros (88-72), 1.0 GB
3. Seattle Mariners (87-73), 2.0 GB
AL Wild Card standings
4. Seattle Mariners (87-73), 1.0 GB