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Series #49: Athletics at Rangers - So Long, Texas (Until October)

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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It is probably safe to say that these A’s aren’t peaking too early. In fact, if anything, it appears that this team is picking the exact perfect time to peak. With just a couple weeks left in the season, the A’s have been able to leave both the Yankees and the Astros quaking in their boots after visiting them in their own home stadiums, and for the final stretch of the year, things finally cushion up a bit. That isn’t to say that this team can lie down and take a nap over the next couple weeks, but with the Astros in the rearview mirror, rest, recuperation, and a secured Wild Card spot should be the team’s top priorities.

With the A’s making their final trip to the state of Texas, after playing four against the Astros it is now time for the A’s to wrap up their season series in Arlington. The Rangers have done the A’s a favor this week, beating up on the Rays enough to allow the A’s to swoop in and take the top Wild Card spot. The Rangers have also done a favor for themselves, clawing their way back to a .500 record at 74-74 in the process. The surge is ultimately all for naught, as the team has been eliminated from playoff contention, with the American League being a league of six “haves” and nine “have nots” this season, but the late season surge can help boost Texas’ confidence for the 2020 campaign as well as play spoiler for one of the few playoff contenders fighting for one of the few remaining spots. In a frustrating season, sometimes playing spoiler is all a team has.

For the last week, Texas has been playing some great baseball. Sure, some of that great baseball came against Baltimore, but considering the A’s went 0-6 against the Blue Jays this year, it is still important to beat the teams you are “supposed” to beat, and any given game can never be considered a guaranteed victory. For the remainder of the year, however, the Rangers have things pretty tough. The only teams remaining on the Rangers’ schedule are the A’s, the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Astros, quite the gamut to try and get through.

It has been since just after the All Star Break since these two teams last saw each other, after many-a competition during the season’s first half. As per usual, the driving force behind the Rangers’ second half success comes from the lineup, capable of putting crooked numbers on the board in any given inning. Most recently, the biggest force in the lineup has been Nick Solak, who made his MLB debut earlier this year. Since being called up to the show, Solak has proved that he deserves to be at the big league level, batting .360/.473/.600 in about a month’s work of action. Meanwhile, Willie Calhoun and Danny Santana have been providing the power for the Rangers’ lineup, hitting 13 and 15 home runs, respectively, in the season’s second half, and driving in the plurality of the team’s runs. On the flip side, Elvis Andrus has been absolutely dreadful in the season’s second half, all of his power sapped and slashing .229/.271/.298 with just two home runs since the All Star Break.

Just as everyone predicted, Mike Minor and Lance Lynn have been two of the best starting pitchers in the entire sport this year, and their elite performance has been a large part of the Rangers’ success this year. Without them two, it is likely that this team is nowhere near .500 in the standings. However, the rest of the team’s starting rotation is a bit in shambles and inconsistent, with a bevy of different players rounding out the rest of the starting five. Adrian Sampson, the Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano nemesis, has mostly been demoted to the bullpen in the season’s second half as he has really struggled with keeping the ball in the yard and ducks off of the pond.

With the A’s in the middle of a playoff race, these are the sorts of teams that the A’s need to beat at this point, especially when just proving to the likes of Houston and New York that the A’s can play up to the best and not bat an eye. Texas won’t be a pushover, however, and will be a challenge for a highly used pitching staff. Hopefully, the A’s can continue their winning ways.

Potential Lineup

Shin-Soo Choo - DH

Elvis Andrus - SS

Willie Calhoun - LF

Nick Solak - 3B

Danny Santana - RF

Rougned Odor -2B

Delino DeShields - CF

Ronald Guzman - 1B

Jose Trevino - C

Pitching Matchups

Chris Bassitt vs Brock Burke

Mike Fiers vs Mike Minor

Sean Manaea vs TBD

Game Information

Game #148: Friday, September 13th at 5:05

Game #149: Saturday, September 14th at 5:05

Game #150: Sunday, September 15th at 12:05

All games will be broadcast on NBCSCA.