Oakland Athletics manager Ken Macha can’t find any fault with his starters over the last two games.
Oakland (73-55) has won five of six after two straight outstanding efforts by its starters. Esteban Loaiza pitched a four-hitter and struck out seven in a 6-0 victory at Toronto on Wednesday, and Barry Zito took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before a leadoff single by Mark DeRosa in a 9-3 win in Friday’s series opener.
Zito was chased in the ninth and gave way to Chad Gaudin, who recorded the final two outs of the combined three-hitter.
“It’s kind of frustrating,” Zito said. “Not so much about the no-hitter, but to give up runs late. But we had a good lead, and the team won.”
Blanton (13-10, 4.47 ERA) is well rested since he’s pitching after seven days off. He lost his last outing despite allowing two runs over six innings last Friday in a 7-1 defeat at Kansas City.
Blanton is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts this season with at least six days between outings. Prior to this year, he was 0-4 with a 7.96 ERA in five outings after at least six days of rest.
The right-hander, 5-2 with a 3.27 ERA over his last seven starts, is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two outings this year against Texas.
Oakland leadoff hitter Jason Kendall went 2-for-5 Friday for his fourth straight multihit effort, and is 20-for-44 over his last 10 games.
“He’s our leadoff guy, and it seems like he’s always on base,” center fielder Mark Kotsay said. “He’s spraying the ball around the field and driving it into the gaps, like the hitter we all knew he was when he got here.”
Struggling A’s shortstop Bobby Crosby was placed back on the disabled list Friday due to a lower back strain. He’s played just four games since returning from the same injury that sidelined him from July 31-Aug. 17.
The Rangers (66-64) have lost four of five and fell eight games behind the first-place A’s in the AL West with Friday’s defeat. They’ve managed a total of 16 runs in that stretch.
Texas and Oakland have split 14 meetings this year, with the first 12 contests being decided by three runs or less.
Rangers starter Adam Eaton (3-3, 4.45) is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his last two home starts. He missed a chance to win a third straight outing overall when he gave up four runs and a season-high 11 hits in five innings of a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday.
“My assessment of my performance: not very good,” Eaton said. “All their runs were scored with two outs. It’s a real frustrating feeling.”
The right-hander is facing the A’s for the first time since 2001. He went 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two career starts against them while pitching for San Diego.