MINNEAPOLIS -- There is no way to look at the schedule for the final three weeks of the season and not see that the A's have a sizable advantage over the Texas Rangers in the battle for the American League West title.

You could bring up the subject with A's manager Bob Melvin, and all he would say is: "It doesn't (matter) to me."

At some level, however, it does matter. The A's have six series left, a total of 19 games. Only one, a three-game set in Texas at the end of the trip that starts Tuesday in Minneapolis, comes against a team with a .500 record or better.

The A's have two series left with the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels, and one with the Seattle Mariners, none of them close to being a contender.

The Rangers, who lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, have six series and 19 games left, and the first four of those series come against teams with winning records -- Pittsburgh, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Kansas City.

The A's, however, will tell you it's not as cut and dried as all that. For one thing, the A's have seven home games and 12 on the road. The Rangers have 12 games at home and seven on the road.

For another, in the past month, the A's have played much of their best baseball against the better teams they have faced. They sometimes have trouble playing well against the lesser lights, although they rallied to beat Houston in three in a row after the Astros flattened them 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."

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 should be in the lineup Tuesday after missing a game because of a right quadriceps strain, takes the view that the schedule doesn't matter.

And to support his case, he 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 title. "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 (with the Astros). I'm not saying we looked past them, but any team can beat you if you're not at your best."

The great unknown in the schedule from the Oakland point of view is Minnesota. The Twins are the one A.L. team the A's haven't played this year.

Minnesota is 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 from the Rangers and the Astros on a recent trip, then going home and getting swept in a three-game series by the Toronto Blue Jays.

"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."

For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Insider at blogs.ibabuzz.com/athletics. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3.

A.L. West Race

Team W L GB
A's 83 60 --
Texas* 81 62 2


* -- Lead wild-card standings

Who's left?

A's

Games remaining: 19
Sept. 10-12 at Minnesota
Sept. 13-15 at Texas
Sept. 16-18 vs. L.A. Angels
Sept. 19-22 vs. Minnesota
Sept. 23-25 at L.A. Angels
Sept. 27-29 at Seattle

Texas

Games remaining: 19
Sept. 10-11 vs. Pittsburgh
Sept. 13-15 vs. A's
Sept. 16-19 at Tampa Bay
Sept. 20-22 at Kansas City
Sept. 23-25 vs. Houston
Sept. 26-29 vs. L.A. Angels