With the Athletics and Angels nipping on their heels, the Rangers start a stretch of 20 straight games without an off-day when they open a three-game set against Detroit at the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday. Following that series, Texas faces the Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins and Rays.
"Our might is going to be challenged," manager Ron Washington said. "We'll put on our cement boots, stand tall and play each game as it shows up. We can't run from it. It's on the schedule."
The Tigers are amid a similar gauntlet. After traveling to Texas, Detroit will square off against the Twins, Orioles, Blue Jays and Angels while trying to fend off a slew of teams vying for one of two AL Wild Card spots.
On Friday, the Tigers will send Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.72 ERA) to the mound. The Rangers pounded him in a pair of outings in the ALCS last October, as Scherzer surrendered nine runs on 11 hits in 8 1/3 innings.
In that series, Scott Feldman tossed 5 1/3 scoreless frames in three appearances. Riding a six-game winning streak, Feldman (6-6, 4.52 ERA) will take the hill for Friday's series opener.
"They're a good team," Feldman said. "For me, I just need to execute my pitches. They have a good team, but it's not like I'm going to try extra harder. All I focus on is executing my pitches."
The Rangers simply hope Feldman aids the club in getting the series off on the right foot.
"If we can go out and take two of three in every series, it will be tough for teams to catch us," closer Joe Nathan said. "That's our goal for every series. We need to come out and play good baseball ... play a good, hard nine innings and see how we do."
Tigers: Leyland not worried about pitch counts
Justin Verlander matched a regular-season career high with 132 pitches on Monday. Don't color manager Jim Leyland concerned or impressed by that total.
"It's a walk in the park for him," Leyland said. "When you've got his type of arm, that's a piece of cake for him."
Leyland said about 120 pitches is a "piece of cake" for any pitcher, especially young guys.
"I think Justin Verlander could throw 140 pitches, and I don't think it would bother him one bit -- I truly believe that," Leyland said.
Miguel Cabrera started at designated hitter on Thursday for the second time in five days. He is suffering from a sore left ankle after fouling a pitch off his left shin, which caused drainage to his ankle.
"I think if I can get him off his feet one more day, we can pretty much be over the hump with that [sore left] ankle," Leyland said Thursday morning. "It's still pretty sore. So that's why I had to make that adjustment."
Rangers: Nathan to sit out non-save situations
If the Rangers hold more than a three-run lead in the ninth inning, don't expect to see Nathan jog to the mound. Washington said he'd like to cease the use of his closer in non-save situations.
"Since we're going down the stretch and with the workload that Nathan has taken on, I'm not going to let him come out there in a non-save situation," Washington said. "I'm going to try and use him in save situations and save some bullets."
Nathan, who recorded his 23rd save this season on Wednesday, needed two days off last week after hurling a total of 62 pitches in non-save appearances on consecutive days.
The Rangers placed catcher Yorvit Torrealba on release waivers on Wednesday. Teams have 48 hours to claim him; otherwise, he'll be released and become a free agent.
Torrealba became expendable when Texas acquired Geovany Soto from the Cubs prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler stole his 20th base in the first inning on Wednesday. That gives him five 20-steal seasons, the most in club history.
Texas has taken five of its seven meetings with Detroit this season.
The Tigers outrighted utility man Don Kelly to Triple-A Toledo on Thursday after he cleared waivers.