Less than a week ago, Texas manager Ron Washington was fearing for his job and his Rangers were reeling as the worst team in baseball.
Four days and four wins later, the Rangers have matched the longest active winning streak in the AL, and they’ll seek their first three-game sweep of the season on Sunday in Oakland.
After Texas (13-18) dropped the final seven games of its last road trip, the team’s executives met to discuss Washington’s future in Arlington. But team president Nolan Ryan held off on making a decision, and the Rangers responded by taking two of three at home from both Minnesota and Kansas City.
They’ve started their current trip with consecutive wins against the Athletics (18-14), equaling the Twins’ four-game winning streak.
“I’m not counting,” Washington said. “I just want us to keep playing good baseball. If we keep playing good baseball we’ll be in games. That’s all I want. We’re OK.”
The Rangers have been winning despite relying on a patchwork rotation. Four different starting pitchers are currently on the disabled list, so struggling journeyman Sidney Ponson and rookie A.J. Murray both made starts - and earned wins - this week.
Murray, called up from Triple-A Oklahoma Friday, became the eighth pitcher to start for the Rangers this season on Saturday, helping them to a 6-3 win while allowing just two earned runs in 5 1-3 innings. David Murphy’s three-run home run in the first inning staked Murray to a lead he wouldn’t give up.
“I’m glad I could go out there and help the team get another win and keep this winning streak going,” Murray said.
Scott Feldman will try to do the same on Sunday. Feldman (0-0, 6.00 ERA) has spent time at Double-A this season, but has made three appearances for Texas.
His first and only career start was his best outing, as he allowed just three runs in six innings against Toronto on April 13. The Rangers eventually lost 5-4.
“Feldman was outstanding,” Washington told his team’s official Web site after that game. “He hung in there and battled. We battled. Today we just got beat.”
The same thing has been happening to Oakland recently, as the A’s have dropped four of five following their surprisingly strong start. They haven’t scored more than three runs in any of the four losses, and DH Frank Thomas went 0-for-4 Saturday, giving him just three hits in his last 18 at-bats.
The A’s cut a 5-0 deficit to 5-3 in the sixth, but couldn’t manage a hit in 3 2-3 innings against the Rangers’ bullpen.
“After we got behind by so much, to come back within two was a positive,” manager Bob Geren told his team’s official Web site. “It gave us a chance, but their bullpen held the lead. It was a tough night swinging the bats.”
A similar lack of run support plagued left-hander Greg Smith (2-1, 2.73) in his last start on Tuesday - the game that started the skid. The rookie allowed just three hits and two runs in eight innings against the Los Angeles Angels, but got a complete-game loss in a 2-0 defeat.
“The bottom line is, we lost the game,” Smith said. “I feel like I didn’t do the job, but I pitched effectively.”
The Rangers last earned a three-game sweep in Oakland exactly three years ago, from May 2-4 of 2005.