The Oakland Athletics look to continue their recent dominance of the Texas Rangers and perhaps pass them in the American League West standings when the teams begin a season-ending four-game series in the Lone Star State on Thursday. A walk-off homer by Mark Canha lifted the Athletics to a dramatic 6-5 win over Seattle in their home finale Wednesday.
It was their 15th win in 20 contests, a stretch that includes half of a 6-0 stretch versus the Rangers, who enter this series leading last-place Oakland by three games. Texas has been trending in the opposite direction with six straight losses, the latest a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of Houston on Wednesday. The Rangers have been outscored a mind-boggling 45-8 in the last four games and need to find the win column once more to avoid a first-to-worst drop in the division standings from 2016 to 2017. Lefty Sean Manaea gets the call for Oakland in the opener opposite struggling veteran Miguel Gonzalez for Texas.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, NBCSN California (Oakland), FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics LH Sean Manaea (11-10, 4.56 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-12, 4.62)
Manaea has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last six starts but he managed to get through only five innings in a win at Philadelphia his last time out and then missed a start due to back tightness. The 25-year-old defeated Texas with five innings of two-run ball at home last month and recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in an April start in Arlington. He might be careful with shortstop Elvis Andrus (9-for-16, two doubles against Manaea) but will likely go right after second baseman Rougned Odor (0-for-13, five strikeouts).
Gonzalez has a 7.16 ERA in four starts since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 31. He had his best start in a Texas uniform on Saturday at Oakland, limiting the Athletics to a run and four hits over six innings of a tough loss. The 33-year-old is 0-2 with a 4.01 ERA in five career games (four starts) against Oakland.
1. Each of Oakland’s six straight wins over Texas came at home, but it has lost five of six in Arlington this year.
2. Wednesday’s win gave the Athletics a 15-10 mark in September, which assured the club of snapping a streak of 10 consecutive losing months.
3. Rangers rookie LF Willie Calhoun went 2-for-3 with his first career home run Wednesday after opening his career by going 1-for-16.
PREDICTION: Athletics 6, Rangers 5