It's the A's and Texas tonight in the second game of a four-game set, live from Arlington. The Rangers took game one of the series in a back-and-forth affair typical of Rangers Ballpark; it ended 8-7 in favor of Texas.
In case you missed it, today has seen more than its fair share of A's-related news. Use this link to the DLD to get a broader sense of what's been going on, but in case you missed it, the San Jose City Council voted this morning to file a lawsuit against MLB and Bud Selig for not forcing the Giants organization to relinquish their territorial rights to Santa Clara County. It also calls into question MLB's antiquated antitrust exemption that's been in place since the 1920s. I'm surprised that it's actually come to legal action -- whether this move actually moves the process of the A's getting a new venue forward remains to be seen.
But despite the constant distractions, Oakland still has a game tonight, and an important one at that. Jarrod Parker takes the hill tonight for Oakland, sporting a 5-6 record and a 4.45 ERA that belie how well he's pitched lately. His last outing was an eight-inning gem Thursday afternoon against the New York Yankees in which he allowed just five hits and two runs. That game's outcome ended up being decided ten innings after his exit, but that's another story.
Parker's Texas Ranger opposition is the outstanding Japanese import Yu Darvish, whose numbers this year are formidable indeed. He's 7-2 with a 2.64 ERA, but that didn't stop the A's the last time they faced him. You may remember a mid-May affair in which the rookie Dan Straily outdueled Darvish four weeks ago today on May 21, earning the victory in a 1-0 decision. OK, so it did stop the A's, but the offense got it done and Straily did a phenomenal job keeping the A's in a position to win a ballgame in which he wasn't going to get much support at all.
Oakland still leads the Rangers by two full games in the AL West standings, but actually playing Texas creates the classic two-game swing. In other words, the A's could leave North Texas leading the division by five full games, or trailing by one.
To make sure that the former remains a possibility, Straily needs to pitch well tonight. It's not fair to ask him to replicate his most recent performance in Arlington, though — Oakland's offense is going to need to get a little more going than they could their last try against Darvish, or at least make him work hard enough that the A's get a crack at Texas' bullpen in the middle innings.
|5:05pm Athletics (J. Parker - R) @ Rangers (Y. Darvish - R)|
It's the typical lefty-stacked lineup against a right-handed pitcher tonight; Cespedes and Donaldson in the four and six holes, respectively, are the only exclusively right-handed bats in the lineup, with Lowrie and Coco being switch hitters. Cespedes is DHing yet again, as his hamstring is still not 100% and with the heat and possible dehydration from playing in Texas being factors, Bob Melvin is using an abundance of caution with the Cuban slugger, as he should.
It's also interesting to see Josh Donaldson, the A's most productive hitter this season, slide to the six-hole, but I kind of like it, simply because this lineup has no true weak spots if everybody is producing. Obviously that's true of every lineup, but with this one especially, every single bat can do something to hurt you. Yes, even Eric Sogard's. I love this depth. Seriously, Donaldson-Smith-Reddick at 6-7-8? That's pretty phenomenal.
Let's see if the A's can get the lead back to three games. It should be a good one.