The Texas Rangers remain in the hunt for their first division title in a decade in large part because of their success within the AL West. Their play against the last-place Oakland Athletics this week, however, hasn’t helped their cause.
The Rangers look to avoid getting swept by the Athletics in a four-game series for the first time in four years Thursday at Oakland Coliseum.
Texas (59-47) is the only team in the AL West with a winning record within the division, and it’s not just hovering above .500. The Rangers have gone 21-12 against division rivals, helping them stay within striking distance of the first-place Los Angeles Angels, who are 14-17 against the West.
Texas, though, has missed some opportunities to put more pressure on Los Angeles by losing the first three games of this series. The Rangers are in danger of suffering their first four-game sweep against the A’s (47-60) since July 21-24, 2005, and their first ever in Oakland.
After Texas totaled two runs and 12 hits in the first two games of the series, eight of its nine starters recorded at least one hit Wednesday night. The Rangers still fell 7-5.
“We know we’re a good team,” said Young, batting .465 during a 12-game hitting streak. “We’re not going to let a couple bad games ruin what we’ve built up so far this year. We’ll make our adjustments. We always do.”
A’s third baseman Adam Kennedy(notes) hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the sixth inning to deliver Wednesday’s victory. It was the season high-tying fourth homer of the game for Oakland, which has averaged 5.89 runs while winning six of its last nine but had only one homer over its previous six games.
“That’s something we haven’t done,” manager Bob Geren said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve done that. Home runs are always good.”
Geren hopes his club can continue to hit for power against Thursday’s starter Tommy Hunter(notes) (3-2, 2.63 ERA). The right-hander gave up a season-high five runs in a season-low five innings of his 7-2 loss to Seattle on Saturday.
Hunter made his season debut May 29 against Oakland, giving up three runs in 5 1-3 innings and failing to get a decision in the 6-3 victory.
The Athletics will counter with rookie right-hander Trevor Cahill(notes) (6-10, 5.01). After going 5-5 with a 3.68 ERA in his first 15 starts, the 21-year-old is 1-5 with an 8.31 ERA over his last seven.
Cahill has given up six runs in each of his last two games, including his 6-5 loss to Toronto on Saturday in which he lasted 5 1-3 innings. He’s walked 20 and given up 12 homers over 34 2-3 innings during his seven-start slump.
“Just the fact that when I get behind guys, they’re able to look for a pitch,” he said. “(When I) try to bring a fastball, they’re looking for it, and that usually leads to more home runs.”
Cahill held the Rangers to one run in seven innings of his first start against them, a 9-4 win May 7.