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Game Thread #27: A's vs. Rangers

The A's try to pad their one-game lead over the Rangers in the AL West, live from Arlington at 5:05pm.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, Scott Kazmir and the A's take on the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Oakland is looking to pick up a series win and exact some revenge on Texas for its three-game sweep last week in the East Bay. To make it happen, Kazmir will have to recall some of last night's magic. He's pitching in the wake of the best performance of Sonny Gray's career, as the young right-hander carved up the Rangers' lineup last night, carrying the A's to a 4-0 win on the heels of a three-hit shutout.

As good as last night's pitching matchup looked on paper, tonight's might be even better, given Oakland's total ownership of Yu Darvish. Texas' Martin Perez will take the hill in opposition of Kazmir, and has one-upped him in two significant statistical categories. While Kazmir is 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA, Perez is 4-0, and at 1.42, his ERA paces American League starting pitchers.

Perez's last appearance came on Wednesday at the Oakland Coliseum. His performance was nearly identical to that of Gray last night, as he went the distance and allowed just two walks in a three-hit shutout of his own. Perez's was slightly more impressive, though; while Gray took 109 pitches to blank the Rangers, Perez needed just 108 last week.

That start was just the latest in a string of fantastic outings for the 23-year-old out of Venezuela; he's riding a 26-frame scoreless inning streak in which he's allowed only 11 hits.

Kazmir, though, is no slouch — he's gone at least six innings in all five of his starts this year, and has allowed just three earned runs in his last 20 innings.

So barring a major change in the status quo, tonight should be a low-scoring affair. Normally, a night after the Rangers asked for 5⅔ innings from their bullpen, the A's would carry the advantage of facing an exhausted Rangers relief staff. But the Texas bullpen isn't tired; much to the contrary, every Rangers reliever is available with the notable exception of Nick Martinez — the starter who picked up the win last Wednesday — who impressively threw five scoreless innings in relief. Aaron Poreda picked up two outs to close out the fourth inning for Darvish, but should also be available tonight.

Yoenis Cespedes is back in the the A's lineup for the first time since Tuesday, serving as the designated hitter and giving the order a boost from the cleanup spot. Brandon Moss has the night off against the left-handed Perez, giving Craig Gentry an opportunity to play left field while Josh Reddick, the lone lefty, plays in right. All 57 inches of Alberto Callaspo will man first base, Derek Norris is catching, and Nick Punto will supplement an otherwise weak defensive infield from second base.

For Texas, Shin-Soo Choo makes his return to the starting lineup after an ankle injury; he pinch-hit in the ninth inning yesterday but couldn't help his team escape the firm grasp of Sonny Gray's dominance.

First pitch is set for 5:05pm Pacific, and with this pair of pitchers, the ballgame could be done before the start of the main attraction tonight in Bay Area sports: the Warriors taking on Donald Sterling the Clippers at 7:30 in Game 5 of their first-round, Western Conference Playoff series.

Today's Lineups

Coco Crisp - CF Shin-Soo Choo - DH
Jed Lowrie - SS Elvis Andrus - SS
Josh Donaldson - 3B Adrian Beltre - 3B
Yoenis Cespedes - DH Prince Fielder - 1B
Derek Norris - C Alex Rios - RF
Alberto Callaspo - 1B Michael Choice - LF
Craig Gentry - LF Leonys Martin - CF
Josh Reddick - RF Robinson Chirinos - C
Nick Punto - 2B Josh Wilson - 2B
Scott Kazmir - LHP Martin Perez - LHP