Officially a desperate team the Rangers did what their precarious position requires by again plastering Houston on Monday night.

The Rangers flattened the dismal Astros early and rolled to a clear-the-bench 12-0 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Alex Rios hit for a cycle in his first four at-bats as the Rangers tripled their run production from the disappointing three-game series at Kansas City last weekend.

Left-hander Derek Holland pitched his second shutout of the season to win for the first time since Aug. 4. Holland is in line to start the next-to-last game of the regular season.

“This what we have to do” Rios said. “We know what’s coming is not easy but we’re very optimistic.”

The rout kept the Rangers two games behind Tampa Bay and moved them to one game behind Cleveland for the two American League wild-card spots. Manager Ron Washington insisted he will not obsess on the scoreboard in these decisive days.

“We need to beat who we’re [playing]” Washington said. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’d like for them to lose while we win but I’m not depending on that.”

The Rangers are 15-2 against Houston which has lost 10 consecutive games. The Rangers can win their remaining six games two against the Astros and four against the Los Angeles Angels and miss the playoffs.

Unlike the last three seasons when they determined their own fate on the way to the playoffs the Rangers need the kindness of others.
The Rangers must have Tampa Bay to stumble in its final six games at the New York Yankees and at Toronto. Or the Rangers hope for Cleveland to struggle against a pair of AL Central patsies: the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota.

“We need to worry about ourselves and not worry about what everybody else is doing” said Holland who held the Astros to six singles. “If we win the rest will take care of itself. You’ve got to put the pressure on them.”

And the Rangers have to keep winning something that has eluded them in September. On Tuesday they will attempt to win a second consecutive game for the first time since Aug. 27-28 against Seattle.
Rios triggered the romp with a two-run double in the first inning. It may have released the pressure building within a team that went 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position during the wrenching series loss at Kansas City.

“It’s certainly something we’ve been looking for” Washington said of a quick offensive start. “We’ll know how confident we are tomorrow.”