MINNEAPOLIS The A's have one clear advantage over the Texas Rangers in the battle for the American League West title.
Bring up the subject with A's manager Bob Melvin, and he says, "It doesn't (matter) to me."
At some level, however, it does matter. The A's have six series left. Only one, a three-game set in Texas beginning Friday, comes against a team with a .500 record or better.
The A's have two series left with Minnesota and the Los Angeles Angels and one with Seattle, none of them close to being contenders. Oakland starts a three-game set against the host Twins today.
Of the Rangers' final six series, the first four are against teams with winning records Pittsburgh, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
The A's point out they have seven home games and 12 road games left. The Rangers have 12 home games and seven on the road remaining.
Oakland has played much of its best baseball against more formidable competition and had trouble against the lesser lights, although the A's beat Houston three straight over the weekend after losing to the Astros on Thursday.
"You can look at the schedule and see we play more sub-.500 teams," shortstop Jed Lowrie said. "What that means, though, is that we have to take care of business and beat the teams that we should beat. We can't be letting our guard down, because these teams can beat you."
Right fielder Brandon Moss looks at the schedule with the same enthusiasm as he would have surveying a thicket of poison ivy.
"It's a mirage that those teams we're going to be playing have sub-.500 records," Moss said. "The Mariners play as good against us as anybody. The Angels should have a much better record than they do. They've got the talent for it."
Third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is expected back in the lineup today after getting Sunday off to deal with a right quadriceps strain, doesn't think the schedule matters. To support his case, Donaldson looks at the 2012 A's.
"We had the tougher schedule down the stretch last September," Donaldson said of the A's charge to win the A.L. West on the final day of the season by beating Texas. "But we won. So it doesn't mean that much.
"And if you don't take every team seriously, it will hurt you. Take the first game (Thursday) of the series (against the Astros). I'm not saying we looked past them, but any team can beat you if you're not at your best."
The A's great unknown in the schedule is the Twins. Minnesota is the only A.L. team Oakland has yet to face this season. And the Twins are going younger, having just traded Justin Morneau to the Pirates in an effort to shed salary and rebuild organizational depth.
They are a difficult team to figure, having won two of three against both Texas and Houston on a recent trip, then coming home and getting swept by Toronto in a three-game series.
"We haven't played them all year," Moss said. "And they just took two of three from the Rangers, so they're playing well. There's no way we can take any of these teams for granted."