Wild-card-leading A's set sights on Rangers

With three teams chasing the two American League wild-card spots, the new leader, the Oakland Athletics, will try to stay on top when they open a three-game series against the Texas Rangers on Friday night in Arlington, Texas.

The A's beat the Astros 3-2 Thursday to leapfrog the Tampa Bay Rays by one-half game in the wild-card standings. The Cleveland Indians are a full game behind the A's.

The A's are scheduled to send right-hander Chris Bassitt (10-5, 3.64 ERA) to the mound in the series opener.

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Bassitt struck out a career-high 11 batters on Saturday in a 10-2 win against the visiting Detroit Tigers, improving to 3-0 in his past seven starts with a 2.61 ERA.

He was running on empty after missing his previous start for the birth of his child, which caused him to go three days without sleep.

Bassitt made it through that game thanks to some advice from fellow A's starting pitcher Brett Anderson, who warned him that the lack of rest would take its toll physically.

Sure enough, Bassitt needed 43 pitches to get through the first two innings, giving up two runs in that span before settling in.

"I didn't realize how tough it would be," Bassitt said. "It was a grind."

Bassitt will be up against Rangers rookie Brock Burke (0-1, 3.52 ERA), who should also have more energy after battling a stomach virus in his last outing.

Burke will be looking for his first major league win in his fifth start for the Rangers.

Burke made his major league debut on Aug. 20, and the 23-year-old left-hander threw six shutout innings against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.

He delivered two more solid starts before hitting his first speed bump on Sept. 6 while battling the stomach virus. He gave up six runs and six hits in five innings but had a no-decision in the Rangers' 7-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Burke said he didn't feel nearly as strong as he did in his previous outings.

"I lost eight or nine pounds," Burke told reporters. "After I got done with the warmup bullpen, I didn't really feel too great."

The A's will be the first team Burke has faced that's in a playoff race.

Bassitt came into this season with a 4-14 career mark, but he hasn't lost since July 24 to the Astros in Houston. He has 17 strikeouts and one walk in his past three appearances covering 16 1/3 innings.

He faced Texas in his season opener in Oakland on April 22 and blanked the Rangers for five innings on two hits before earning the win as the A's cruised 6-1.

He went up against Texas again on June 8 in Arlington and held the offense without a hit until the fifth inning before allowing three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He took the loss as the Rangers went on to a 3-1 win.

Bassitt is 1-2 in five career appearances, including three starts, against Texas with a 5.09 ERA.

--Field Level Media

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