The Texas Rangers apparently are planning to make the race for the second wild card in the American League a fight to the finish. Texas brings a four-game winning streak into its three-game series against the host Oakland Athletics, which begins on Friday, and sits 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the wild-card spot.
The Rangers, who had lost five in a row and seven of eight before topping the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, posted a 4-2 triumph at Seattle on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep and improve them to 4-2 on their nine-game road trip. Carlos Gomez returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 9 and paid immediate dividends, going 2-for-3 with a two-run double. Texas plays seven of its final 10 games against Oakland, which is kicking off its last homestand of the season. The Athletics also are on a roll, as they completed a 6-3 road trip with four consecutive victories - including three straight at Detroit.
TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Texas), NBCSN California (Oakland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers RH Nick Martinez (3-6, 5.47 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Kendall Graveman (5-4, 4.39)
Martinez returned to the rotation last Friday after making a pair of relief appearances and escaped Los Angeles with a no-decision after surrendering four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Angels. It was the first start for the 27-year-old Floridian since Aug. 31 at Houston and kept him winless in nine appearances (five starts) since defeating the Yankees in New York on June 25. Martinez is 0-1 in two turns versus Oakland this year but 4-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 career games (nine starts).
Graveman will be well-rested as his start in Philadelphia on Saturday lasted only two innings due to a lengthy rain delay. The 26-year-old native of Alabama worked six frames in his previous outing on Sept. 10, when he limited Houston to one run and five hits en route to victory. Graveman is 2-0 in three turns against Texas this season, allowing one run over seven innings in each of the wins.
1. Athletics OF Khris Davis is one home run away from joining Jimmie Foxx (1932-34) as the only players in franchise history to record back-to-back 40-homer seasons.
2. Rangers DH Adrian Beltre hit his 462nd career shot on Thursday, tying Miguel Cabrera, Jose Canseco and Adam Dunn for 35th place on the all-time list.
3. Oakland 1B/OF Matt Olson has belted 23 home runs in his first 67 major-league games and recently went deep in five consecutive games (Sept. 15-19) - both franchise rookie records.
PREDICTION: Athletics 5, Rangers 3