Although a game in June should never be labeled as a "must win," using 2012 -- when the A's beat the Rangers on the final day of the season to claim first place for the first time all year -- as a guide, it would suggest that a win in Thursday's series finale between the two teams would serve both well in regard to postseason aspirations.
"You look at last year, and that's a great indicator that every game's important," A's right-hander A.J. Griffin said. "It came down to the last game between us two. You've got to take every game and give it your best. You want to win every single time you go out there. We've got to keep playing good baseball and have everyone doing the job."
Griffin will get the nod on Thursday as Oakland looks to split the four-game series after Texas won Wednesday's game, 9-4, in Arlington. The win was the first by a Rangers starting pitcher in June, snapping a club-record 17-game winless streak for the rotation.
Rangers manager Ron Washington hopes that Josh Lindblom can start a trend in the other direction, though Lindblom is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three starts. He lost his most recent decision after surrendering four runs on two home runs.
"I said that night after he pitched, giving up four runs, we never concern ourselves on four runs early," Washington said. "We should be able to make that up. We just haven't so far this month. We're not worried about that."
Griffin has also struggled as of late. He's winless in his last four outings, with a 4.15 ERA, after going 5-3 with a 3.84 ERA in his first 10 starts. He is 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers, the last one coming this past May 13, when he gave up one run on six hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking none.
A's manager Bob Melvin insists that Griffin's recent performance is not indicative of his ability to pitch in big-game situations, saying, "He's not a guy that gets flustered, so it's not like you'd think this is a trend and he has trouble staying away from the big inning. That's not the case. I think it's just been coincidental. It's either been a pitch or two, or just one inning, because all the other innings are so good. He's been consistent."
Winning the final game of the series would bring the A's three games ahead of the Rangers in the American League West, while Texas can close the gap to one if victorious.
• Washington has used eight batting orders in 10 games during the current homestand, and 11 variations in the past 13 games, beginning June 7 at Toronto.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.