The Oakland Athletics head into Monday night’s three game series in Texas tied with the Rangers atop the American League West with a 15-10 record. But over the past week, the A’s have hit their first rough patch of the season after being swept by the Rangers at home and then losing two out of three in Houston. This rough patch, however, can quickly turn around with a strong series in Texas.
In a 162 game regular season, a little adversity is bound to happen to a ball club. But it’s how that team responds that defines them in the end. Oakland will have a quick chance to prove that they are still the team to beat in the American League West, and no better way to kick things off than a marquee pitching matchup of Sonny Gray vs. Yu Darvish. Gray is having a stellar season. The 24 year old is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA. He has 31 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched on the year. The Athletics will need him to continue his dominance on Monday.
Darvish has not been too bad himself. In four games started, he is 1-0 with just a 1.61 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. His record does not speak for how well he has pitched because of his lack of run support. However, the Rangers bats have been on as of late. Winners of nine of their last twelve games, Texas has now driven in 110 runs on the year, ranking eighth in all of baseball. Their .271 team batting average ranks third in all of baseball, and their .346 on base percentage just second. Extraordinary numbers from a team that got off to such a slow start this season.
The Athletics will definitely have their hands full, but their pitching staff is fully capable of containing the Rangers high powered offense. With the trio of Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jessie Chavez slated to take the mound, they give Oakland a great shot to take the series and regain sole possession of the division.
However, it will also be up their offense, that has been inconsistent as of late, to give their staff some much needed run support. They managed to score just seven runs in last week’s series against the Rangers, not coming up with the big hit and missing out on many golden opportunities. With both Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes struggling, the rest of the A’s cast of characters will need to pick them up. Reddick is hitting a measly .222 and Cespedes, who has been hampered by a hamstring injury, just .238. As a team the Athletics are hitting .255, ranking twelfth in the league, but their .345 on base percentage ranks third.
Despite Oakland’s recent struggles, they are still tied with both the Rangers and the Yankees for the best record in the American League. A winning series would be huge for the Athletics before they had to Boston for a quick three game East Coast swing this weekend, followed by a long 10 game home stand.
Commentary by Rich Peters
Guardian Liberty Voice Writer for the Oakland Athletics