OAKLAND -- The A's and Texas Rangers went their separate ways Wednesday afternoon in the wake of Oakland's 11-4 win at the Coliseum, knowing that nothing has been decided.
The promised land of the postseason in the American League West is completely up for grabs, as it was on April 1. The caveat is that the other three teams in the division are non-qualifiers.
Both the A's and Rangers have played 139 games and have 23 games to go. Both teams have 80 wins. Both have lost 59. Only one can win the A.L. West title.
The A's got the better of the Rangers this week, winning two of three. And on Wednesday, they beat Texas ace Yu Darvish. Again.
The A's play the Rangers three more times this season, on the second leg of a six-game trip that starts Tuesday in Minnesota. If nothing changes, Darvish would miss Oakland. If you are the Rangers, you would normally hate the thought of your ace missing a start against the other A.L. West contender. But maybe it's the best for Texas.
The A's are 3-0 against Darvish this year, and they have five wins in his six career starts against them. Since he's the Rangers' only double-digits winner, that's not the kind of psychological edge that can easily be dismissed in what has now become a 31/2-week sprint to the postseason.
"He's a really good pitcher," said Coco Crisp, who had a sacrifice fly against Darvish as the A's built an early 3-0 lead, then hit a two-run homer after Darvish's day was done. "It always will be a battle when he's out there.''
The game was close for five innings, but a six-run Oakland sixth, energized by Daric Barton and Josh Donaldson homers, made this one noncompetitive and allowed manager Bob Melvin to give Jarrod Parker the final three innings off.
Parker got off to a terrible start this season, but the 24-year-old has quietly become the de facto ace of the Oakland staff. Parker was 2-6 before he took off on a nine-game winning streak. He's gone 18 starts without a loss, subtracting the iconic Catfish Hunter from the Oakland record book in that category. He needs three more to match another Hall of Fame pitcher, Lefty Grove, for the all-time A's mark.
If the Rangers are harboring doubts about Darvish, the A's have none concerning Parker.
"The surprise for me is not what he's doing now,'' said right fielder Brandon Moss, whose two-run homer off Darvish in the first put the A's in front for good. "For me, it was the first month that was the surprise. I've always seen him pitch like he's pitching now, except for that first month this year.
"People can say what they want, but to me, he was unquestionably our ace last year. And Bartolo (Colon) is our ace, too, but Parker is as good as anybody. When he pitches, he digs deep.''
Parker has matched up with some of the better starters in the league this season, including Darvish twice, David Price of the Rays his last time out and Matt Garza just after the Rangers made him their big midseason acquisition.
None of them has beaten Parker.
"When you have someone throwing as well as consistently as Jarrod,'' Melvin said, "it gives you confidence.''
Houston (Brad Peacock 3-5) at A's (Sonny Gray 2-2), 7:05 p.m. CSNCA
FEELING A GROOVE
Beginning with an 8-6 win Aug. 26 at Detroit, the A's offense has averaged 6.1 runs per game and won eight of 10 against playoff contenders Detroit, Tampa Bay and Texas. Here's how their hottest hitters have fared during the stretch:
Player AVG R H 2B HR RBI
Brandon Moss .379 9 10 1 5 13
Coco Crisp .310 11 13 3 5 11
Josh Donaldson .308 6 12 6 1 6
Jed Lowrie .289 7 11 6 1 8