Rangers versus A’s: Series Preview
The Rangers headed into San Diego earlier this week in all kinds of trouble, needing wins in the worst of ways. After losing their first game and looking over matched, the Rangers bounced back with a blowout, a close win and a walk-off. That’s three straight wins for the team and they will now welcome the Oakland A’s into town who have won their previous two series against the Detroit Tigers and Anaheim Angels.
These two teams have already faced each other twice this season with the Rangers taking 2 out of 3 in Arlington and the A’s taking 2 out of 3 in Oakland. These teams always play each other closely so it should be a good battle with both teams looking to rebound from very slow starts to the season.
For the Rangers, winning series during this stretch of play against losing teams is extremely important. It’s a long climb from where the Rangers found themselves earlier this week but it’s a climb that is possible, especially with the schedule lining up how it is.
Athletics: 16-18 – 4th in AL West
Rangers: 16-20 – 5th in AL West
Rangers projected starters:
Andrew Cashner: Andrew Cashner has been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers this season having pitched very well over all in his 5 starts this season. Casher has gone 5 plus innings in every outing but one and will go into his start on Friday night with a 2.63 ERA. Despite this, Cashner has a 0-3 record and will be looking for his first win in a Rangers uniform. The Rangers are simply struggling to score runs when Cashner pitches. So far they have scored just 6 to runs in his 5 starts and the most they have scored in a single game has been 3 which happened in Cashner’s last start against Seattle. To put Cashner’s lack of run support in perspective, in AJ Griffins 5 starts this season, the Rangers have scored 46 runs. That’s a difference of 40 runs between the two pitchers. Look for Cashner to continue pitching well and hope that the Rangers can pick him up with some runs. It will be no easy task as the Rangers will be facing Jesse Hahn who has given up just 3 earned runs to the Rangers in his two starts against them this season.
Athletics pitcher to watch:
Sonny Gray: Sonny Gray began the season on the disabled list and will be making just his third start for the Athletics this year. Gray, in his fifth year overall has had extremely good results against the Rangers for the majority of his career. Between 2014-2015, Gray faced the Rangers 9 times going 6-3 with a 1.99 ERA. There wasn’t a single game that the Rangers dominated Gray and during that time and Gray pitched two complete game during that span as well. Last year however, Gray dealt with some injuries and only faced the Rangers twice. In those two contests, Gray was just 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA. So far this season Gray has gone 0-1 with a 4.22 ERA and hasn’t gone more than 6 innings in a start. The key here will be which Sonny Gray shows up. Will it be the pitcher who dominated the Rangers for two seasons early in his career or the pitcher who struggled in 2016 and hasn’t quite found his rhythm in 2017?
Rangers’ hitter to watch:
Jonathan Lucroy: Much has been made of Jonathan Lucroy and his struggles at the plate this season. Coming off his best offensive year ever, Lucroy has had a miserable start to the season and has spent much of it below the Mendoza line. In the past 12 games however, Lucroy has quietly been coming alive. In those 12 games, in 42 at-bats, Lucroy is 14-42 which translates to a .333 average. In that same time period, Lucroy has raised his batting average from .189 to .253 and his OBP from .232 to .306. In his past 4 games, Lucroy has been even better going 7-15 and picking up multiple hits in 3 of those 4 games. A healthy Lucroy in the heart of the Rangers order makes huge difference and if he can continue his hot streak into the series versus the A’s, look for the Rangers offense to continue to improve.
Athletics hitter to watch:
Yonder Alonso: The most games Alonso has ever played in were in 2012 when he played in 155 games and registered 549 at-bats. In those at-bats, Alonso hit a career high 9 home runs to go along with 62 RBI’s. In 99 at-bats this season, Alonso has 11 home runs and 27 RBI’s. It’s an absolutely incredible start for a player who has never been known for his power and has already topped his career high in home runs by May 11. So far this year against the Rangers, Alonso is 6-18 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI’s. Alonso bats from the left side so the home run porch will be in play as he tries to build on his incredible start to 2017.
Game Times: All Central Time