Texas (54-39) at Oakland (51-43)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 23, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Oakland Athletics have always looked forward to Mark Mulder’s turn in the rotation.

Now, they’ll have even more reason to do so as the All-Star left-hander takes the mound in the opener of a three-game series with the first-place Texas Rangers at Network Associates Coliseum.

The A’s trail the Rangers by 3 1/2 games for the AL West lead after getting swept in two straight at Seattle, capped by Thursday’s 4-2 defeat. Oakland has lost four of six overall, but Mulder, the hottest pitcher in the majors, will be called upon to end the skid.

“I think the club always feels good when he’s going out there,” A’s manager Ken Macha said.

Mulder, who enters as the only 13-game winner in the majors, has won 11 straight decisions, including a 5-3 home victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. He went 8 1-3 innings, giving up three runs, three hits and striking out eight. Mulder was coming off a 16-7 victory at Cleveland on July 10 in which he allowed six runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings.

He improved to 7-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 10 home starts this year.

“A lot of things are going right,” Mulder said. “The best way I can put it is, we’re getting just enough runs. The games where I get hit a little bit, the offense picks me up. And when I pitch well and only give up two or three runs, we get three or four.”

Mulder will go up against fellow All-Star lefty Kenny Rogers, a 12-game winner along with San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt and Boston’s Curt Schilling. Schmidt was denied his 13th win on Thursday, but Schilling will be in action against the New York Yankees on Friday.

Rogers won a career-best eight straight decisions prior to the All-Star break, but has gone 0-1 with a 14.44 ERA in two starts since. The 39-year-old left-hander didn’t get the decision in the Rangers’ 7-5 victory on Sunday, giving up five runs and 12 hits over 6 2-3 innings.

“There is always pressure when you go out there,” Rogers said. “There is always stress and all those forces trying to make it harder for you to do want you want to do.”

Rogers will have added pressure Friday considering Rangers starter Ricardo Rodriguez was lost for the season after sustaining a broken right elbow in Thursday’s 11-1 loss to Anaheim. Rogers is the only pitcher that has remained in the rotation all season.

“It’s really sad for him and the organization,” teammate Michael Young said of Rodriguez. “We have had injuries all year long and we have managed to step up and pick each other up. I imagine we’ll do that again.”

Texas lost for just the second time in seven games.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Rogers Det vs. M. Mulder StL
18-9 Record 17-8
4.76 ERA 4.43
126 K 140
66 BB 83
1.48 WHIP 1.36