MINNEAPOLIS -- The A's might be in a dogfight with the Rangers for control of the AL West, but you won't catch them looking past the Twins, even with a three-game set in Texas next up on the schedule.
That doesn't mean they're completely ignoring the Rangers' fortunes, though. A's players gathered around the television in the clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon and cheered on the Pirates as they knocked off the Rangers in a matinee. But they understand that they have to focus on the task at hand, especially after the Twins won the series opener, 4-3, on Tuesday night.
"I think it just comes down to respect," A's shortstop Jed Lowrie said. "If we lose respect for the process, if we lose respect for the guys who are out there trying to beat us on any particular day, then you can be taken advantage of. We need to worry about Texas when we get to Arlington, and not forget that the guys here on the other side of the field are going to try to beat us."
A Major League season can be a long grind, and it's certainly tempting to look into the future to the head-to-head matchup with the Rangers, who trailed the A's by three games going into Thursday's game. But manager Bob Melvin has made it a priority to ensure his players resist that temptation.
"It probably starts with me. I talk about that quite a bit," Melvin said. "I mean, the players understand that, too. It's just the way we are, and it's the way we've been the last couple years.
"We play everybody the same. We don't take anybody lightly, and we don't overlook anybody to another series. One of the things this team has done very well since I've been here is just worry about winning today's game. We'll total them all up in the end. We really don't look too far ahead."
The Twins are the only team outside the AL West remaining on Oakland's schedule. After the conclusion of the series vs. the Rangers, the A's will host the Angels for three games and then Minnesota in a four-game set beginning on Sept. 19. Otherwise, all that remains are three against the Angels in Anaheim and three at Seattle to end the season.
However, Oakland's unfamiliarity with the Twins, who are missing injured catcher Joe Mauer and traded first baseman Justin Morneau to Pittsburgh on Aug. 31, provides added incentive for the A's to keep their eye on the ball against Minnesota.
"It's enough to try to prepare for these guys -- you don't see them all year, and the first time you play them, it's with expanded rosters," Melvin said. "It's tough to get up to speed on this team, let alone look ahead to another team."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.