Labor Day marks the beginning of baseball’s stretch run, and one of the hottest races will be on display this week as the Texas Rangers head to Oakland for a three-game series with the Athletics.
The Rangers enter the series with a one-game lead over the A’s in the American League West and hold a 8-5 advantage so far in the season series. Texas is coming off a hot month, but also a frustrating weekend. The Rangers were 20-7 in August, but lost two of three to the lowly Minnesota Twins at home over the weekend. Texas probably won’t mind leaving the Texas heat, as they hold the best road record in all of baseball at 40-28.
When Nelson Cruz was suspended, Texas manager Ron Washington moved Ian Kinsler out of the leadoff role and down to No. 3. Kinsler will be a key hitter for the Rangers this series, as he has hit just .167 against current A’s pitchers.
Oakland was the surprise team of 2012, as they won 94 games took the AL West title by a single game over Texas. The A’s aren’t sneaking up on anybody this season, but they’re still two games ahead of where they were at this point a year ago.
Josh Donaldson has been a big reason the A’s are back in contention this year, and is one of the great breakouts of 2013. The third baseman is hitting .292/.369/.479 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI.
Donaldson is one of Oakland’s only players who has had success against Derek Holland, going 5-for-11 with a home run and two doubles off him. Over his career, Holland was a 2.64 ERA against the A’s. On the other hand, Donaldson has been dreadful against Yu Darvish, going 1-for-8 with six strikeouts. Darvish not only leads the league in strikeouts, he has 35 more than anyone else.
One Oakland pitcher who has had success against the Rangers is Jarrod Parker, who will start Wednesday. The 24-year-old is 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA against Texas and is coming off an August in which he went 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA.
These two teams will meet again for a three-game series in Texas that starts Aug. 13. While both teams have a great shot at making the playoffs, A’s manager Bob Melvin stressed the importance of winning the division to MLB.com.
“To me, it’s pretty exhausting to look at all the Wild Card implications right now. I think any team’s goal and focus is to win their division so you don’t have to deal with that one-game playoff.”
- Rangers at Athletics
- Cardinals at Reds
- Tigers at Red Sox
- Orioles at Indians
- Pirates at Brewers
- Mets at Braves
- Dodgers at Rockies
- Rays at Angles
- White Sox at Yankees
- Mariners at Royals
- Nationals at Phillies
- Blue Jays at Diamondbacks
- Giants at Padres
- Twins at Astros
- Marlins at Cubs