The A's may have the advantage of an uncommon situation tonight: having been in town a day before the home team. While the A's wrapped up their series against Tampa Bay on Sunday and headed to Arlington, not only did the Rangers have one more in Baltimore yesterday (which they won), it was a night game. Those "wraparound" series don't come too often and usually schedule-makers set it up so the getaway game is in the afternoon. Not this time, which could be a bit of a double whammy for Texas. We can hope, given what that offense does.
As usual, the Rangers are in the upper half of the American League in most offensive categories and here's a number that may leave some of us salivating: they have 39 home runs, a full 10 more than the Toronto Blue Jays. The A's have 7. On the flipside, they don't walk a lot and do strike out a lot. Speed has also been a weapon of theirs so far, with 18 stolen bases and a 90% success rate, led by Ian Kinsler's 7. Kinsler's been tearing it up already with a .341 average, 7 homers, 20 RBI, and a 1.107 OPS.
On the pitching side, well, they are what we thought they were: a 5.99 team ERA, only the Yankees being worse. Teams are scoring 6.3 runs a game against them and they've allowed 31 homers. Odds are even the A's should be able to hit a few at the Bandbox in Arlington. Continuing the trend of opposites, Texas also walks a lot of batters and doesn't strike very many out. Their slogan this year is "Built For Fun," which is probably true if you like long games with a lot of offense. They could change that to "Built For Runs" and it'd be more accurate on both sides.
Overall the A's have had their struggles in Arlington, going 3-6 there each of the past two seasons. They haven't had a winning record in Texas since 2005, when they went 7-2 (a figure that was greatly aided by a four-game sweep in late July). When that jetstream gets going out to right, teams can be in for lengthy affairs that often result in both sides scoring in double digits. We'll take that on our side offensively, at least.
Following a disappointing opener on Friday against Tampa Bay, the A's got things going to take the last two games of the series while Texas captured three of four in Camden Yards. The A's will send lefty Brett Anderson to the hill against right-hander Kevin Millwood, who has easily been the best starter for the Rangers so far (no, really - don't laugh), only victimized by a couple things out of his control (the bullpen wasted a great start in Detroit, then he faced Zack Greinke, he of the zero ERA, after that). He's worked 7 or more innings in every start and has yet to give up more than 5 hits in any of them, though he did allow 4 runs to Toronto in his last outing. Odds are he'll be back to the mediocre pitcher he's been in Texas soon enough based on his track record there and tonight would be a good time to send him on his way down that path. Anderson is coming off a subpar outing in Yankee Stadium, rewarded with a start in another hitter's park.
Tonight's game also kicks off a set of 10 in a row against AL West teams (3 @ TEX, 3 @ SEA, then an abnormal 2 vs. LAA and 2 vs. TEX). While it's still early in the season, it's never too soon to do well against teams in your own division.
Matchups for the series:
Tonight: Brett Anderson vs. Kevin Millwood, 5:05 PM
Trevor Cahill Josh Outman vs. Vicente Padilla, 5:05 PM
Thursday: Dallas Braden vs. Scott Feldman, 11:05 AM
The game can be seen on CSNCA, heard on 860 & 1640 AM
Oakland Athletics @ Texas Rangers
04/28/09 5:05 PM PDT
|Oakland Athletics||Texas Rangers|
|Ryan Sweeney - CF||Ian Kinsler - 2B|
|Orlando Cabrera - SS||Marlon Byrd - CF|
|Jason Giambi - 1B||Michael Young - 3B|
|Matt Holliday - LF||Andruw Jones - LF|
|Jack Cust - DH||Hank Blalock - DH|
|Nomar Garciaparra - 3B||Nelson Cruz - RF|
|Kurt Suzuki - C||Chris Davis - 1B|
|Travis Buck - RF||Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C|
|Mark Ellis - 2B||Elvis Andrus - SS|