These AL West rivals are on opposite ends of the division, and their matchup of contrasting styles will be on display Thursday night in Arlington in the opener of a four-game set.
Texas (47-41) leads the West and Oakland (39-49) is in last. The season series, however, has told a different story.
The Rangers have scored 434 runs for the third-highest total in the majors at 4.9 runs per game. They have averaged 4.5 in going 2-4 versus Oakland, but scored only nine runs in four losses.
Oakland owns a 3.05 ERA and is last in the AL with 304 runs. The Athletics are eager to cut into their eight-game deficit in the division.
“It would be nice to go in there and win some games and go into the break with a good feeling,” manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics’ official website. “It is a team that’s ahead of us. We’re not trying to look at the standings too much, but it is a team that was in the World Series last year. If we can’t get up to play those games, something’s wrong with us.”
Slowing down the Rangers could be difficult after Texas batted .414 with 19 extra-base hits in a three-game sweep of Baltimore, capped by Wednesday’s 13-5 rout.
Michael Young(notes) went 9 for 12 with four RBIs in the series, Adrian Beltre(notes) was 5 for 12 with five RBIs and Endy Chavez(notes) was 5 for 9 with four RBIs for the Rangers, seeking their first four-game home winning streak since they began 7-0 in 2011.
“We knew we could hit,” said Young, who is 10 for 24 with nine RBIs against Oakland this year. “We have a talented group of guys one through nine. We feel like anyone who’s up at the plate has a chance to put up a good at-bat and find a way to be productive.”
The Rangers will be up against a familiar face in Rich Harden(notes) (1-0, 3.00 ERA), who is in his second stint with Oakland after he went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA in 20 appearances - 18 starts - for Texas in 2010. Harden began the year on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle in his right side before he made his season debut Friday and yielded two runs over six innings in a 5-4 win over Arizona.
The right-hander has limited Young to eight hits in 31 at-bats and Beltre to 2 in 13. Harden is 5-2 with a 4.27 ERA in 11 starts against Texas, including 1-1 with a 7.66 ERA in five on the road.
Derek Holland(notes) (6-4, 5.10) will oppose Harden and try to bounce back from a terrible effort against Florida on Saturday when he allowed five runs and failed to get out of the first inning in a 9-5 loss.
The left-hander has pitched better in four starts against Oakland, going 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA.
Willingham has team highs of three homers and eight RBIs against Texas this season.