Four games left. Here's what I wrote about the game in my series preview:
Colby Lewis is in the decline phase of his career, at age 35 and in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He has a 5.34 ERA on the year, and while a lot of that is due to an inflated hit rate there is no guarantee that regression can be counted on to balance that stat back to his career norm given his overall situation. He's always given up lots of homers and he is still doing so, but now his strikeout rate is down by a full strikeout per nine innings. He got lit up by the first-half A's in June, but that doesn't seem particularly relevant anymore. He reached back to throw a shutout against the White Sox in August, and he threw another complete game at the end of that month. He strung together four solid (if not technically quality) starts before getting burned by the Angels in his last game for eight runs in five innings -- again, that hardly seems relevant given how much better the Angels' offense is than Oakland's at the moment. Jason Hammel, on the other hand, hasn't started since Sept. 12, but he did make a relief appearance against Texas on Sept. 18 and tossed three scoreless innings with four strikeouts. He has a 2.81 ERA in his last seven starts, four of which have registered as quality outings, and has racked up three strikeouts for every walk during that time. Advantage: Oakland
The Rangers have a few hot hitters to look out for. There's Adrian Beltre, of course, who is always dangerous in any game. Ryan Rua has two homers in his last four games, and Jake Smolinski has two in his last nine, and those are only the guys you've never heard of. J.P Arencibia drew a walk on Tuesday, which is astonishing. Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos are each hitting well over the last couple weeks. In fact, Texas has six hitters batting at least .300 over the last 14 days. So, while the Rangers' record is only 65-93, they have two potentially favorable pitching matchups and a lineup full of guys who are quietly hot. We already knew that this wouldn't be a cakewalk based on the fact that the Rangers swept the A's in Oakland last week, but upgrade it from "not easy" to "legitimately challenging." Good thing the Wild Card is all but wrapped up.
Brandon Moss is in the lineup batting fifth, and Geo Soto draws the start behind the plate. Adam Rosales is lurking in Texas' order, batting ninth
|OAKLAND A'S||TEXAS RANGERS|
|Coco Crisp - CF||Leonys Martin - CF|
|Josh Reddick - RF||Elvis Andrus - SS|
|Josh Donaldson - 3B||Rougned Odor - 2B|
|Adam Dunn - DH||Adrian Beltre - 3B|
|Brandon Moss - LF||Jake Smolinski - RF|
|Stephen Vogt - 1B||Ryan Rua - LF|
|Jed Lowrie - SS||Robinson Chirinos - C|
|Geovany Soto - C||Luis Sardinas - DH|
|Eric Sogard - 2B||Adam Rosales - 1B|
|Jason Hammel - RHP||Colby Lewis - RHP|
Let's Go Oakland!