It seems almost blasphemous for the Angels to root for a division rival, one that seized the American League West title from them in 2010 and hasn't let go, but that's an unsavory byproduct of the wild-card system.
The Angels began play Tuesday seven games behind Texas in the AL West with nine to play. They were two games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot. The Rangers and Athletics were playing in Texas. Do the math.
"If it comes down to simply numbers, I'm rooting for Texas, because we're closer to Oakland," Angels left fielder Mark Trumbo said. "If it comes down to feelings, I'm rooting for neither. I don't think anyone would admit to rooting for any other team in your division. But that's the way it is."
The A's and Rangers play again Wednesday and Thursday and close the regular season with three games in Oakland next week, and the Angels close at Seattle.
The more the A's lose, the better the Angels' chances of snagging a wild-card spot. But if the Rangers clinch the division title before that final series, they have little incentive to beat the A's next week, and that could hurt the Angels.
The Rangers probably see the Angels as more of a postseason threat than the A's, so they could rest several regulars against Oakland next week and save their top starting pitchers for the playoffs.
"That makes sense," Trumbo said. "I can't see anybody intentionally not try to win a game, but you could find time to rest some of the regulars. The bottom line is we have to win quite a few of our remaining games. If we're unable to do that, it's a moot point."
The Angels could have started Ervin Santana and Dan Haren on regular rest against Seattle on Wednesday and Thursday. They could have gone with C.J. Wilson and Santana.
Manager Mike Scioscia chose Wilson and Haren because of their success against the Mariners this season and because Santana, the most effective of the three right now, gives them a better chance of winning in Texas on Saturday.
Wilson gave up one run and two hits in six innings of a 4-2 win over Seattle on May 27 and has a 10-5 career record and 3.88 earned-run average against the Mariners.
Two of Haren's best starts have come in Seattle, a four-hit, 14-strikeout shutout May 24 and a seven-inning, one-run, five-hit effort Aug. 31. Wilson and Haren are aligned to start a season-ending series in Seattle next week.
Santana is 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his last seven starts and gave up three runs and four hits in five innings of a 15-8 win at Texas on July 30. By pitching Saturday, he would be aligned to start a potential one-game playoff to win a wild-card spot on regular rest Oct. 4.
"There's a lot of things we've sliced up in the last 10 days in looking at the rotation," Scioscia said. "This puts Dan in a good position and gives us some flexibility on the back side."
The Angels have moved their Class-A Midwest League affiliate from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Burlington, Iowa.