It is the first ever MLB Players’ weekend, where most all MLB players are donning custom jerseys that have a chosen nickname, rather than their last name, displayed on the back. Players will be able to have a bit more fun on the field, and fans will be able to gain a small bit of insight into their favorite player’s life off of the diamond in a rare acknowledgement that the guys down on the field are humans rather than robots. For the inaugural weekend, the A’s get to fly home and play in front of a friendly crowd in a three game series against the Rangers. It has been a long time since the A’s and Rangers have crossed paths, but the two AL West foes are due to face each other ten more times between now and the end of the season.
- Houston: 77-50
- Anaheim: 65-63
- Seattle: 65-63
- Texas: 64-63
- Oakland: 55-72
At long last, after the triumvirate of the Angels, the Mariners, and the Rangers spent the first half of the season battling beating each other into similar losing records with no hope of catching Houston, progress has been made. Now, the triumvirate of the Angels, the Mariners, and the Rangers will be battling each other with similar winning records from now through the end of the long and grueling season, with no hope of catching Houston. As it stands now, the Angels and Mariners are half of a game back of the second Wild Card spot, and the Rangers are just one game back.
Since the A’s are mired in a losing season, and misery loves company, playing spoiler to these three fringe contenders would soften the blow of all the earlier losing. First up is the Rangers.
The Rangers have been playing really well of late. They just finished winning a series against the Angels in the Angels’ home stadium, taking three of four games, and the Rangers have gone 14-7 in the month of August as a whole. Texas was starting to fall behind the rest of the west during the trade season up and through the trade deadline, resulting in the team trading ace Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for some premier hitting prospects, but have found themselves playing their best baseball of the year since his departure. Time will tell if the Rangers will make the playoffs and regret letting their ace go too soon.
The main reason the Rangers have been on the hot streak that they are on is because the team has finally started to hit better than merely league average. Better than league average is an understatement, however, as the Rangers have scored more runs than any other American League team in August, with 128 runs, and have the second highest team OPS in the American League at .852 (only the Orioles are marginally in front of Texas). Joey Gallo has been a complete monster this month, batting ten home runs and slugging .807, but he had a frightening collision and is unfortunately out of the lineup and on the concussion disabled list. Adrian Beltre isn’t far behind him, stats-wise, the Hall of Fame third baseman showing that he’s fully recovered from his injuries, and Robinson Chirinos is hitting like he’s never hit before.
Friday, August 25th at 7:05 - Kendall Graveman vs Nick Martinez
Saturday, August 26th at 1:05 - Sean Manaea vs Cole Hamels
Sunday, August 27th at 1:05 - Jharel Cotton vs A.J. Griffin
How the A’s Win the Series
As always, it is nice to return home, especially when the players on the field are poised to play with a little more flare and fun with the personalized jerseys and playing for the charities most meaningful to them. It is also nice to play against competition that is still very much in the playoff chase, because it means that the young players getting exposure to the major leagues for the very first time will be facing a team of guys trying to win at all costs, and that forces the rookies to play up to the highest level of competition in a playoff environment, without any of the stresses of being in a playoff chase.
The A’s pitching staff is still reeling, but at least Kendall Graveman is starting to resemble his old self again. Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton have been unable to work out their kinks all season, but ideally the extra rest for the youngsters will do wonders for their arms and give them the strength to power through their problems. But for the A’s to win this series they are going to have to score runs, and while Texas doesn’t have any pitchers who are going to blow A’s batters away, they can’t give up any extra outs on the basepaths or give the pitchers any extra strikes.
Either way, the A’s and Rangers will assuredly be sick of each other by the time this season comes to an end, so buckle in.