The Rangers go for their season-high fifth straight home win when they open a three-game series with the Athletics on Monday night.
Texas (48-63) lost seven of nine on its recent road stretch, including the final four games when it was outscored 24-10. The Rangers dropped all three games of a weekend set with Toronto, including a 4-1 defeat on Sunday in which Frank Catalanotto homered for Texas’ only run.
The Rangers are opening a nine-game homestand, where they are 27-25. This also will be Texas’ first home game since trading away first baseman Mark Teixeira, center fielder Kenny Lofton, closer Eric Gagne and reliever Ron Mahay prior to the July 31 trading deadline.
“It’s always nice to get off the road,” Texas rookie manager Ron Washington told the Rangers’ official Web site. “We’re starting to play better at home, so it’ll be nice to go back with the new group of guys we got and start putting something together.”
One of those players is first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who Texas got in the deal that sent Teixeira and Mahay to Atlanta. After hitting .284 in 47 games with the Braves, though, Saltalamacchia is batting only .059 (1-for-17) with his new team.
Oakland (53-59) hasn’t been able to put much together on the road recently, losing three in a row to fall to 6-15 since June 22. The A’s are beginning a seven-game road trip after a 4-3 homestand.
They lost 4-3 to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday to settle for a split of the four-game series. Dan Johnson hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning to give Oakland the lead, but they gave up two runs in the seventh en route to the defeat.
Dallas Braden (1-6, 5.28 ERA) will try to end a lengthy personal winless streak for Oakland in the opener.
The rookie left-hander won his major league debut in Baltimore on April 24, but is 0-6 with 6.00 ERA in seven starts since then. Braden has also made three relief appearances, recording a 4.50 ERA.
He pitched better in his latest start, allowing two runs and four hits over 5 1-3 innings on Wednesday, but didn’t factor in Oakland’s 3-2 win over Detroit.
“I’m learning something new every day up here,” Braden told the A’s official Web site. “As long as you continually hit your spot you are going to be in a good position.”
Braden allowed four runs and eight hits over six innings while striking out seven in a 4-1 defeat to the Rangers on July 16. That started a stretch of three straight losses for him.
John Rheinecker (1-0, 5.74) makes his fifth appearance and fourth start of the season for Texas. The left-hander gave up six runs and eight hits - both season-highs - over 4 1-3 innings in a 9-6 win in 10 over Cleveland on Wednesday.
He also walked two and struck out three while allowing a career-high two homers. Rheinecker made one relief appearance versus the A’s last season, allowing one hit in one inning.
Texas holds the bottom spot in the AL West, 4 1/2 games behind third-place Oakland, but leads the season series 5-4.