After assuring they won’t finish in the American League West basement, the Texas Rangers still hold out hope for third place as they continue their season-ending four-game series against the visiting Oakland Athletics on Saturday. Texas halted its seven-game losing streak with Friday’s 5-3 triumph, burying Oakland in the division cellar and moving into a third-place tie with Seattle.
Shin-Soo Choo belted a two-run homer and Nomar Mazara drove in a pair of runs with a first-inning single, drawing him within one of his first 100-RBI season. Choo’s blast was his 22nd of the season, matching the career high he set with Cleveland in 2010 and equaled five years later. Oakland, which was responsible for four of Texas’ seven straight setbacks, lost for just the third time in 12 contests. Renato Nunez prevented the Athletics from being shut out, hitting a three-run shot in the seventh inning for his first career homer.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NBCSN California (Oakland), FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH Daniel Gossett (4-10, 5.82 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Andrew Cashner (10-11, 3.42)
Gossett will try to keep the ball in the park after serving up seven home runs in 14 1/3 innings over his last three starts, including four in a loss to Seattle on Monday. The 24-year-old rookie from South Carolina, who is 0-3 in his last five turns on the road, surrendered seven runs on six hits and two walks over 4 1/3 frames in the setback. Gossett, who has allowed 20 homers in 89 2/3 innings, will be facing Texas for the first time.
Cashner did not give up a homer against Houston on Monday but was victimized by a poor defensive effort behind him. The 31-year-old Texan lasted only 3 2/3 frames in the loss as he yielded eight runs - one earned - on six hits and two walks while the Rangers made a pair of errors during an eight-run fourth inning. Cashner has not recorded a decision in three career appearances (two starts) against Oakland but pitched well in their meeting on May 12, allowing one run and five hits over six frames.
1. Rangers 1B Joey Gallo is one homer away from 40 after totaling seven in 53 games over his first two major-league seasons.
2. Oakland OF Khris Davis needs one blast to set a new career high of 43.
3. Texas SS Elvis Andrus became the third player in club history to register 300 total bases, 100 runs and 25 steals in a season.
PREDICTION: Rangers 9, Athletics 5