The Texas Rangers’ freight train en route to a wild-card spot was slowed down in the series opener and hopes to avoid a full derailment when the club visits the Oakland Athletics on Saturday to continue the set. Texas followed a five-game slide with a four-game winning streak before dropping a 4-1 decision on Friday to fall 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second wild card in the American League.
Shin-Soo Choo homered to account for the lone run for the Rangers, who fell to 4-3 on their nine-game road trip. It was the 21st blast of the year for the 35-year-old South Korean, leaving him one shy of the career high he set in 2010 with Cleveland and matched in 2015. Rookie Matt Olson belted a two-run homer while Marcus Semien registered his third straight two-hit performance for Oakland, which began its final homestand of the season with its fifth consecutive win. Olson has belted 24 homers in his first 68 major-league games and 16 in his last 24 contests.
TV: 9:05 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Texas), NBCSN California (Oakland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-11, 4.75 ERA) vs. Athletics LH Sean Manaea (11-10, 4.56)
Gonzalez produced the best of his three outings since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox last time out and was rewarded with his first victory with Texas. The 33-year-old Mexican overcame five walks to limit the Angels to one run and two hits over five innings at Los Angeles on Sunday. Gonzalez is 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against Oakland.
Manaea bounced back from a rough outing in Boston to record a victory at Philadelphia on Sunday, when he gave up three runs - one earned - in five innings. The 25-year-old native of Indiana has alternated wins and losses over his last six turns, with two of the three victories coming at home. One was on Aug. 26 against Texas, as he improved to 2-2 in six career starts versus the club after allowing two runs over five innings.
1. Rangers 2B Rougned Odor is looking to become the eighth player in club history - and first since Michael Young and Mark Teixeira in 2006 - to play in all 162 games of a season.
2. Oakland RHP Jharel Cotton was scratched from his last scheduled start due to a groin injury but is expected to take the mound in the series finale on Sunday.
3. Texas OF Carlos Gomez has gone 3-for-6 in two games since returning from ankle injury.
PREDICTION: Athletics 5, Rangers 3