The Texas Rangers haven't won consecutive games all month and now will try to do it by overcoming one of baseball's best pitchers after his team loses.
The major league-worst Rangers look to win the first two in their three-game home set with baseball-best Oakland, but 24-year-old stopper Sonny Gray takes the mound for the A's seeking to win a fifth straight start Saturday night.Oakland starters had posted an MLB-best 2.13 ERA over a 17-game stretch heading into Friday's opener before Jason Hammel lost his third straight start since being acquired to shore up the rotation.Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre had two hits apiece for Texas (41-62), which snapped an eight-game home losing streak with only its sixth win in 33 games overall. The only time the Rangers have won back-to-back contests in that span was June 27-28.The A's (63-39) have won six consecutive starts made by Gray (11-3, 2.72 ERA), and he's won the last four while allowing three earned runs over 28 1/3 innings.Three of those victories came after Oakland lost. Gray is 8-1 following a team loss, tied with Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen for the majors' best record among starters with at least nine decisions in those situations.That record includes Sunday's 10-2 home win over Baltimore, giving up one earned run and only two hits with eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings."I feel good," Gray told MLB's official website. "Just really can't wait to get back out there every time I come off the mound."The right-hander has won five straight decisions overall dating to a victory over the Rangers, surrendering two runs in seven innings of a 4-2 win June 18. He also allowed three runs over seven innings in a 3-0 loss to Texas on April 23, but fired a two-hitter in a 4-0 victory five days later in his only career start in Arlington.Andrus is 1 for 11 against Gray and Beltre is 0 for 6.The Rangers will try to provide some support for Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.87), who had his start pushed back one day after having to pitch in Tuesday's 14-inning loss to the New York Yankees.The right-hander recorded only one out and took the loss that night, part of his 0-3 record and 8.10 ERA in his last four games. He did not factor in the decision in his most recent start Sunday, giving up five runs and nine hits over 4 1/3 innings in a 9-6 loss at Toronto.Though Tepesch hasn't pitched badly in Arlington this year with a 2-2 record and a 3.60 ERA, he hasn't fared so well when facing the A's. He's 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA in two starts against them, giving up four runs and nine hits over five innings opposite Gray last month.Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson each went 2 for 3 off Tepesch in that contest. Cespedes had an RBI single Friday after missing one game with a sprained right thumb and is batting .360, including a two-homer effort Wednesday, since winning a second consecutive Home Run Derby during the All-Star break. Donaldson has seven RBIs since the break but went hitless Friday.Oakland went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and had seven hits after batting .333 over a four-game stretch in which it totaled 34 runs.