The Oakland Athletics may not be fighting for a playoff spot at this point of the year. However, a potential ninth straight season above .500 and avoiding last place in the AL West should provide more than enough motivation.
The Athletics seek their fifth win in six home games on Friday night when they continue a four-game series against the division rival Texas Rangers.
“Hey, if you want to be prime time, you want to be in the tight situations,” Lugo said.
Oakland (72-76) is trying to finish above .500 for the ninth straight season, which would be the third-longest streak in baseball. Only the New York Yankees (15) and Boston (10) have longer runs with winning records.
“No one wants to finish last,” Swisher said.
Although it has scored 14 runs in its last two home games, the A’s are batting a league-low .238 there. That would be their lowest home average since hitting .229 in 1982.
Oakland pitchers, though, have offset that by compiling an AL-best 3.67 ERA at McAfee Coliseum.
Red-hot Michael Young had three hits and two RBIs for the Rangers (69-77), losers of three straight following a season-best six-game win streak.
“We were close, real close,” Texas outfielder Marlon Byrd said. “We kept fighting, kept battling and have a chance to win this series. We’re going to. We’re coming out and going to win this series and finish up strong like we’ve been playing all year.”
Young is batting .423 (22-for-52) during a career-best 13-game hitting streak—the longest this season by a Ranger.
Texas is expected to have Sammy Sosa as its designated hitter Friday. Sosa, the team leader with 83 RBIs, has only 10 at-bats in three games this month.
Dan Meyer (0-1, 4.32 ERA) makes his second start of the season and his first in nearly a month for the A’s. The 26-year-old left-hander started at home against Kansas City on Aug. 17 and gave up six runs—three earned—and five hits in four innings of a 9-2 loss.
Meyer, part of the trade that sent Tim Hudson to Atlanta in 2004, has allowed one run in four innings over two relief appearances since that start. He gave up one run in 3 2-3 innings Saturday at Texas in Oakland’s 7-3 loss.
Texas counters with Kason Gabbard (6-1, 4.07), who hopes to win his third straight decision . The left-hander hasn’t pitched since Sept. 2, missing his last turn in the rotation due to a blister on his left thumb. He struggled in his most recent appearance, giving up five runs and five hits in six innings against the Los Angeles Angels. Texas rallied for an 8-7 victory in that game, and is 5-2 in Gabbard’s seven starts since he joined the team.
Gabbard is 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA in two career starts against the Athletics, pitching six strong innings in an 8-6 road victory on Aug. 7.
Mark Ellis is 4-for-4 with a home run and a double against the lefty.