Texas (85-68) at Oakland (77-76)

Light Rain Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 25, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Texas Rangers haven’t enjoyed a particularly successful road trip so far. That could change Saturday.

The Rangers will try to clinch their first playoff berth and AL West title since 1999 as they continue a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics.

After batting .202 and totaling 14 runs while losing five of seven to open its 10-game trip, Texas (85-68) tagged A’s pitching for 18 hits in Friday’s 10-3 victory. Vladimir Guerrero(notes) was a triple short of the cycle and had four RBIs, Jeff Francoeur(notes) went 3 for 5 with a homer and the Rangers recorded their most hits since July 19.

“We felt as soon as we could start picking up some of those runs that were out there on the bags that things would work out good for us, and tonight it did,” said manager Ron Washington, whose team snapped a three-game skid in Oakland.

With their magic number at two, the Rangers will give the ball to Derek Holland(notes) (3-4, 4.56 ERA) as they try to join Central champion Minnesota in the AL playoffs.

Coming off a four-inning outing in an 11-4 victory over Detroit on Sept. 14, the left-hander lasted only 3 2-3 innings in Monday’s 7-4 loss at the Los Angeles Angels.

Holland walked three and gave up four runs, but it could have been worse if Julio Borbon(notes) hadn’t scaled the outfield wall to pull back a grand slam in the third inning.

“The first two innings, I felt really good,” Holland told the Rangers’ official web site. “… Then my off-speed stuff kind of shut down and it really hurt me. It was easy for them to sit back and go after my fastball.”

Holland is 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA in two appearances against Oakland this season. He had seven strikeouts and tossed six shutout innings in a 10-1 home win on May 12, then went 4 2-3 innings in relief in a 5-0 loss on Aug. 28.

Holland is 1-4 with a 7.08 ERA in five road starts this season.

While Texas is on the verge of snapping a lengthy playoff drought, Oakland (77-76) will miss the postseason for the fourth straight year with a loss in either game this weekend.

“Obviously we’re not real thrilled about it,” said A’s outfielder Gabe Gross(notes). “We don’t want them doing any kind of celebrating at our expense, especially at our place. We’ll come out and play hard tomorrow, there’s no doubt about it.”

Gio Gonzalez(notes) (14-9, 3.36) will try to keep Oakland’s faint playoff hopes alive as he makes his first start since striking out seven in six innings of Monday’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

The left-hander has yielded two runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts.

“Gio has come a long way,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Gonzalez, a first-round pick by Chicago in 2004. “… He has a chance to have a good career.”

Gonzalez went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against Texas in August.

Guerrero, whose 28 homers are his most since hitting 33 in 2006, is one shy of tying Atlanta’s Chipper Jones(notes) for 37th all-time with 436. Guerrero has four hits - and no home runs - in 19 at-bats versus Gonzalez.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Holland Tex vs. G. Gonzalez Was
3-4 Record 15-9
4.08 ERA 3.23
54 K 171
24 BB 92
1.38 WHIP 1.31

Scoreboard

Saturday, Sep 25