W2W4: Rangers vs. A's
Friday: LHP Derek Holland (9-8, 3.17) vs. RHP Dan Straily (9-7, 4.15), 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: RHP Yu Darvish (12-8, 2.84) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (15-6, 2.85), 12:05 p.m.
Sunday: LHP Martin Perez (9-4, 3.60) vs. RHP Jarrod Parker (11-6, 3.55), 2:05 p.m.
Here's what to watch for in this weekend's final regular-season series between the Rangers and the A's:
|Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett and attempts to solve the Rangers' problems. |
Head-to-head: The Rangers had been the better team in head-to-head action, winning three of the first four series between the clubs before Oakland took two out of three from Texas last week at O.com Coliseum. The Rangers are 9-7 against the A's and will win the season series with a win. That's of little solace with the Rangers being stuck in second place after giving away the division Oakland last year. The Rangers probably have to win the series to have a chance to win the AL West.
Battle of the bullpens: The Rangers will win the series if they can take leads into the late innings. They never led in 27 innings against the Pirates and couldn't rally late. Oakland's trio of left-hander Sean Doolittle, right-hander Ryan Cook and closer Grant Balfour have been used down the stretch. They did get a break with two blowout wins at Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. The Rangers' triumvirate of lefty Neal Cotts, righty Tanner Scheppers and closer Joe Nathan have dominated the A's, going 3-0 with four saves and a 0.81 ERA for 22 1/3 innings. The Rangers have the best and deepest bullpen in baseball. They need some early runs and good starting pitching so they can take advantage of it.
Can the Rangers beat Parker?: A's ace Jarrod Parker has a nine-game winning streak and was in position to win 10 in a row before the A's blew a late lead to Minnesota on Tuesday. Parker hasn't lost since May 22 to Texas. Parker has destroyed the Rangers otherwise. He is 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA in eight career starts against them. Twice this season he's gone head-to-head against Yu Darvish and beaten him. Parker also beat Matt Garza on Aug. 3 in Oakland. Maybe the Rangers should start long reliever Ross Wolf against Parker. He handed Parker his last loss as the Rangers took a 5 1/2 game lead on the A's.
Needing more from Moreland: The Rangers will face three right-handers against the A's. That means three important starts for first baseman Mitch Moreland. The Rangers didn't homer in the series against Pittsburgh and have gone 35 innings without a long ball since Alex Rios hit a first-inning shot Sunday in Anaheim. Moreland is batting .130 for September, but he does have two homers for the month, including one Tuesday off Saturday starter Bartolo Colon. He has five homers against Oakland this season, all at O.com Coliseum, and two of them against Colon. The Rangers are in dire need of some power and Moreland could be the guy to provide it.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.