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A’s Draw Even with Rangers in AL West Standings


With less than a month to play in the 2013 regular season, virtually all of the divisional playoff races have been decided. But there’s still one that’s providing fans and bettors with plenty of excitement and it got even more interesting on Monday night.

A recent surge had placed the Oakland A’s within one game of the top spot in the West coming into their three-game set with the first-place Texas Rangers and the A’s were able to continue that surge in game one, erasing the slim deficit with a 4-2 win.

This time, Coco Crisp rose up to take on the hero role, belting a tie-breaking two-run homer – which barely snuck around the foul pole – in the fifth inning. Ultimately, the home run helped the A’s tie the Rangers in the standings with identical 79-58 records.

“It’s a back and forth that kind of pumps your blood a little bit,” Crisp said, according to ESPN.com. “Obviously you want to be close or you want to be in front, in first place or as far in front as possible. We’re fortunate we’re in the situation we are now.”

Although the teams are now technically tied, the Rangers still have the slight edge in the season series (8-6) against their rival, whom they now realize is going to fight until the end.

“I expect it to go all the way down to the end. Division champs over there,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t expect them to go away and I certainly don’t expect us to go away. Everything goes through Oakland. Doesn’t matter where positioned in the standings right now.”

Of course, first place in the West will be back up for grabs as the two squads take the diamond for game two of their current three-game series tonight.

The Rangers are confident they can reclaim what was once theirs with Martin Perez (8-3, 3.58 ERA) on the mound. Perez has won his last five starts, allowing just 12 runs over the last 35-plus innings and he has a chance to set the rookie club-record for consecutive wins with another one tonight.

“He just goes out there and does what he does,” Washington said. “That’s throw the fastball down in the zone, change speeds and use his breaking ball and move it around.”

Even with Perez throwing well, it won’t be easy to topple the A’s with Bartolo Colon (14-5, 2.94 ERA) getting the ball at home. The veteran Colon has been lights out this season, but is making just his second start in the past three weeks since returning from a groin injury.

With two strong arms taking the bump today, this game could go either way, but I’d lean toward the hotter of the two hurlers and the team looking hungry to bounce back from defeat yesterday. Take the Rangers to cover +1.5 in this one and take back first place (for now).

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