The Athletics and Texas Rangers are headed in opposite directions. One team is competing for the American League West title and the other is comfortably in last place in the division, with a chance at securing the worst record in MLB.
The A's should have been able to take care of business in Arlington over the weekend, but they didn't, losing the series finale 7-4 on Sunday. Sean Manaea had his third straight rough outing, as he gave up three runs in the first inning and seven earned runs overall in five innings of work.
Riding a seven-game winning streak into the Lone Star State, the A's dropped two of three at Globe Life Field.
The good news for the A's is that the Houston Astros lost to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on Sunday, keeping Oakland's deficit in the division at 2 1/2 games entering an important week.
The A's will leave the Dallas area Sunday night and head north to Chicago where they will open a four-game series with the White Sox, who hold a comfortable lead in the AL Central. After that tough test, the A's return to the Bay Area for a three-game series against the MLB-best Giants at the Coliseum.
The Astros, on the other hand, head to Kansas City for a four-game series with the last-place Royals and then return home for a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners, who have struggled since the July 30 trade deadline.
The A's now are 9-7 against the Rangers this season, with five of those losses coming in Texas.
"They play good against us," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters when asked by The San Francisco Chronicle's Matt Kawahara about the Rangers' record against Oakland this season. "That's all I can say. They swing the bats well, they put pressure on us early in the game, get us behind. We had some good at-bats later on, we put ourselves [in a position] where we had the tying at the plate again. But they've swung the bats really well against us, and at times, their starters have held us down long enough, again today, to where they have a chance to win."
The White Sox also stumbled over the weekend against the New York Yankees, but their rotation, lineup and bullpen are daunting, posing a stiff challenge to the A's over the next four days.
Still, outfielder Mark Canha is confident in his squad to go into Chicago and put up a fight against the White Sox.
"Good," Canha told reporters when asked by The Mercury News' Shayna Rubin how he feels going into the four-game series. "They've been winning a lot lately, so I think we're in the mindset of full steam ahead. And we're ready. We're playing good baseball. We've got a lot of guys swinging the bat really well. [Matt Chapman] is coming around, which is great. I think today's loss and this Rangers team has been tough on us a little bit this year. They seem to play good baseball when we come here."
The upcoming seven-day stretch could go a long way to deciding the AL West race. A bad week against two of the best teams in baseball could force the A's to focus on the Wild Card race. A good week and they can make sure the Astros keep them front of mind.
The A's feel good about their team and their chances over the rest of the season, but they would feel a whole lot better if they had taken care of their business in Texas this weekend.