One day after owner Tom Hicks challenged the Rangers’ toughness, they will try to cap a three-game sweep of the Athletics (79-59) when they finish their regular-season series on Wednesday.
“We need to be a little tougher,” Hicks told Dallas radio station KTCK-AM. “We need to be mentally tougher. I think we missed David Dellucci (traded to the Phillies before the season) this year. I think that leadership in the clubhouse part is really important, and we didn’t have that after he left.”
“Toughness is not an issue in this clubhouse,” he said. “If we get outplayed, fine, I’ll say it and answer questions about it. But don’t question my approach to the game or my passion for baseball.
“I know it wasn’t directed at me, but he called out the team and the ones who shoulder the load take it personal.”
The A’s felt Texas’ frustration, losing for the third time in four games. Oakland, which holds a 5 1/2 -game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Angels, will try to avoid being swept for the first time since losing three straight to Arizona from June 30-July 2.
Frank Thomas hit a three-run homer, his 31st of the season, to pull the A’s within a run Tuesday and move into 36th place on the career RBIs list with 1,553. The 38-year-old slugger is two away from tying Hall of Famer Willie McCovey for 35th.
Oakland’s Joe Blanton (14-10, 4.51) looks to remain undefeated against the Rangers (72-68) this season. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts this year against Texas, including a 5-3 victory on Aug. 26. He is 3-2 with a 4.32 ERA in eight career games—including seven starts—versus the Rangers.
Blanton allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings in a 5-4 victory over Baltimore on Friday, but didn’t get a decision. He gave up a homer to Melvin Mora, the first he’d allowed in eight starts.
“I really didn’t have anything to work with so I had to throw everything at them and try not to walk guys,” said Blanton, who is 6-2 with a 3.65 ERA since the All-Star break. “We won, so I’m happy.”
Blanton has won six of his last seven decisions at home, posting a 2.84 ERA in that span, and looks to match Barry Zito for the team lead in wins.
Vicente Padilla (13-9, 4.35) looks to rebound from a shaky outing for Texas. The right-hander allowed six runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 7-2 loss to Cleveland on Friday. He threw 112 pitches, his second-highest total of the season, and allowed eight baserunners in the first two innings.
“(Padilla) came back to give us five-plus innings,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He takes the ball every fifth day and has a chance to win 15, 16 games. What’s not to like?”
Padilla is 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in five starts against the A’s this season, including three straight victories in which he’s allowed three runs and 15 hits in 21 innings for a 1.29 ERA.