The American League leading Oakland Athletics (13-5) are set to host their division rival Texas Rangers (11-8) in a three-game set on Monday night. For Oakland, they are ready to prove to Texas in person that they are the team to beat in not only their division, but all of baseball.
Yu Darvish will head the mound in game one for the Rangers. With just a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings and three games started this season, he will look to continue his dominance. However, Darvish has lost six straight outings against the Athletics – a number that he would surely like to forget.
The A’s will send out 25-year-old Dan Straily to the mound. In three games started this season he has pitched just 16.2 innings and allowed 10 earned runs. He will look to lower his inflated early season 5.40 ERA, but it won’t be easy against a stacked Texas lineup than ranks third in the majors for team batting average at .272 and fifth in on base percentage at .343.
But Oakland’s offense is not one to take lightly either. Usually known for their dominant pitching staff, the Swingin’ A’s are destroying the ball this season. Their 21 home runs rank fifth in the majors and their 87 runs scored rank sixth. With a +32 run differential, that leads the league by a long shot with the Atlanta Braves in second place at +23.
The Athletics combination of both dominant pitching and timely power hitting has them as the early favorites to with the American League title. Even after battling through the early season injuries of starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, their pitching staff is still first in the majors with a .212 batting average against and second with a 2.48 ERA. Dominant numbers that no team wants to face.
With that said, Texas has played better ball as of late, winning seven out of their last ten contests. They know that they need a big series to keep pace with the red hot Athletics, who are coming off of a weekend sweep of the Houston Astros. The Rangers will need a coming out party from their newest big bat Prince Fielder. Fielder is hitting just .188 with one home run and six RBI’s on the season. He only four hits over his last six games and the Athletics would like to keep his dismal numbers trending in the wrong direction.
With the rest of the AL West struggling, it appears that the Athletics and Rangers will once again be the two teams battling it out for the division crown. Oakland, winners of the past two division titles, will try to put their foot down on Texas early on rather than later this season. With a handful of injuries to key Rangers players and a shaky pitching staff, it is the perfect time for the A’s to kick them while they are down. Oakland holds a 21-17 advantage over the Rangers since the 2012 season in which they reclaimed their division for the first time since 2006.
Commentary by Rich Peters
Guardian Liberty Voice Writer for the Oakland Athletics