Barry Zito couldn’t ask for a better opponent to help him break out of his slump.
Zito, the reigning AL Cy Young award winner, has only one win in his last six starts. He’s 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA over that span to drop his overall record to 7-5.
All the elements are in place for Zito to snap out of his funk. He’s is 9-0 in 14 career starts versus Texas. The Rangers are slumping badly, having lost seven straight and 10 of their last 11.
Zito could get some decent run support from the Athletics lineup against Texas’ woeful pitching staff. The Rangers 6.18 ERA is the highest mark in the majors.
Oakland’s Miguel Tejada hit a three-run homer, and four relievers combined on four innings of hitless relief as the A’s took two of three from San Francisco, winning 6-5 on Sunday.
“It was a great homestand, because we have our confidence back now,” said Tejada, the reigning AL MVP. “We think we’re ready to play against every team. You could see by the way we rallied today. Right now, we can take two of three from anybody.”
Texas was beaten 3-1 by Houston on Sunday to complete a three-game series sweep.
The Rangers have lost 19 of 21 games, their worst stretch since also going 2-19 in September 1972.
“When you are in a funk like we are, everyone’s pressing a bit. You can’t will it to happen,” Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez said. “We just have to relax, smile and enjoy the game.”
STANDINGS: Athletics - 2nd place, 6 GB, AL West. Rangers - 4th place, 21 1/2 GB, AL West.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Zito (7-5, 2.92 ERA). The talented southpaw failed to earn a decision despite holding the Rangers to one run and four hits over six innings of the A’s 4-3 win on Wednesday.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Tony Mounce (0-1, 5.40 ERA). The 28-year-old rookie will be making his third career start. The left-handed Mounce matched Zito on Wednesday, holding Oakland to one hit and four runs over 5 2-3 innings. He failed to figure in the decision as Texas was beaten by the A’s 4-3.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Athletics - Eric Byrnes, .335 avg., 44 runs and 7 SBs.; Tejada, 14 HRs and 49 RBIs. Rangers - Hank Blalock, .320 avg.; Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez, 18 HRs; Juan Gonzalez, 50 RBIs; Carl Everett, 51 runs; Rodriguez, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Athletics, 7-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Athletics - RHP Keith Foulke has converted 19 saves in 22 chances. … SS Tejada has four homers and 11 RBIs over the last six games. … OF Byrnes has scored a run in each of the A’s last nine games. Rangers - Texas pitchers have given up 439 earned runs, 36 more than any other team in baseball. … OF Everett is hitless in his last 12 at bats. He’s hitting just .206 in June. … 3B Blalock’s .335 batting average is good for fourth in the AL.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Athletics - 15-19 on the road; Rangers - 16-20 at home.
INJURIES: Athletics - LHP Micah Bowie (elbow), 15-day DL. Rangers - OF Gonzalez (groin), day-to-day; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.