The Texas Rangers ended their worst skid of the season in unlikely fashion— with a dominant outing from their starting pitcher. Now they look for another strong showing on the mound as they conclude a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday afternoon at McAfee Coliseum.
Texas’s starting rotation has been the worst in the majors this season with a 6.20 ERA. During a recent season-high six-game slide, Rangers starters recorded a dismal 9.59 ERA, but Mike Wood provided five shutout innings to end that slump Tuesday in a 4-0 victory.
The Rangers (19-33) will recall John Koronka (0-1, 5.40 ERA) from Triple-A Oklahoma to make his second start of the season. The left-hander will replace Brandon McCarthy, who is sidelined with a blister on his right middle finger.
Koronka made his season debut on May 19, allowing three runs and six hits over five-plus innings in a 6-1 defeat to Houston. He was then optioned back to the RedHawks, for whom he’s gone 4-3 with a 5.20 ERA.
Koronka went 7-7 with a 5.69 ERA in 23 games for the Rangers in 2006. He held the Athletics to two runs and five hits over seven innings in his only appearance against them on May 26, 2006, but didn’t factor into the 5-3 victory.
Oakland (25-26) has dropped three of its last four games, but hands the ball to Dan Haren (5-2, 1.70), who is trying to win his third straight start and sixth consecutive decision.
The right-hander—the AL leader in ERA—has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the majors recently with eight straight quality starts. He is 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA during that span while holding opponents to a .172 batting average.
Haren limited Baltimore to one run and two hits over seven innings in a 3-2 victory on Friday, retiring 18 of the final 20 batters he faced.
“The key to the game was Dan Haren,” Athletics manager Bob Geren said. “He gave up the one run in the first inning, then he really settled in. He just was better as it went on.”
Haren is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in five home starts, but has struggled a bit during his career versus the Rangers, going 2-3 with a 4.57 ERA in seven starts.
Texas slugger Sammy Sosa is 2-for-4 with two doubles lifetime versus Haren, and his two-run single in the sixth on Tuesday snapped a scoreless tie. He is still two home runs shy of becoming just the fifth player to reach 600.
“This game is about adjustments,” said Sosa, who is expected to be the designated hitter Wednesday as Frank Catalanotto returns to the outfield. “Once again I had an opportunity to drive in some runs and come through for my team. Hopefully we can get on a little roll.”
The A’s may get a boost Wednesday as center fielder Milton Bradley is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list, where he has been nursing a strained left hamstring.