GameThread #72: OAK @ TEX

Straily looks to repeat his recent success - USA TODAY Sports

The A's travel to Texas for the first of four games in this midseason battle for AL West supremacy.

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Sellout crowd against the Mariners in June, solid contributions from every player on the roster, an actually good FIRST half of the season, Zubaz pants and sewage overflows...this year has been pretty unusual, even by A's standards.

This series presents an interesting test, a chance to see if the A's can protect their division lead against the talented veteran team on their heels. Last year of course, the A's never had a division lead to protect. A new challenge in the development of a young juggernaut. Can they brave the Arlington heat and emerge with a stranglehold on the division?

Dan Straily takes the mound against Nick Tepesch in a battle of AL Rookie of the Year candidates. Straily's candidacy is on an upswing as he sports a 2.20 ERA over his last five starts, which stretch started with his seven innings of shutout ball to get the win over Yu Darvish in Texas back on May 21. In his last start he only allowed three hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees.

On the other hand, Tepesch is trending downward, having allowed at least five earned runs in each of his last two starts, the most recent being a five run, five inning loss against Cleveland.

The teams' performance has mirrored the recent trend of their respective starting pitchers. The A's have cooled off a bit since that 18-4 stretch, but they are still 6-4 in their last ten. Meanwhile Texas is in a freefall, having gone 2-8 primarily by getting demolished by the Blue Jays (1-7 vs. Toronto in that stretch).

The A's, protecting a three game division lead before the all-star break. This is an odd, awesome season, so far.

Here are your lineups:

Let's Go A's!

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