A’s host Rangers, look for long-awaited sweep
The Oakland Athletics will go for their first three-game series sweep since June when they close out a home set against the reeling Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
The A’s responded from the short turnaround between an extra-innings affair on Friday night and an afternoon game on Saturday with a seven-run third inning that paved the way to a 12-3 cakewalk.
Oakland also took the series opener 4-1, getting a three-run, walk-off home run by Starling Marte.
Saturday’s explosion came in the wake of Friday’s announcement that Ramon Laureano would have to miss the rest of the regular season — and more — on an 80-game suspension prompted by a positive drug test.
A’s manager Bob Melvin watched Marte, who has replaced Laureano in center field, contribute two more hits, including a run-scoring double, in Saturday’s 16-hit barrage. He also noted that another newcomer, Josh Harrison, who had a home run and two singles in the win, could help fill the outfield void.
“We have to play with the pieces that we have. We still have good ones,” Melvin said Saturday. “We have several guys that are going to play. We’ll try to get the best lineup on a particular day. We have guys that can cover the position.”
Now winners of three straight, the A’s are expected to reinstate right-hander James Kaprielian (5-4, 3.24 ERA) from the injured list to make Sunday’s start. The 27-year-old hasn’t pitched since experiencing shoulder discomfort while getting blasted for a season-worst six runs in 4 1/3 innings in a road loss to the San Diego Padres last Tuesday.
The rookie already has made three starts against the Rangers this season and hasn’t recorded a win in any of them. All three were similar — either five or six innings, between four and six hits, and either two or three runs.
The A’s did win the third of the three Kaprielian starts with a 8-4 victory on July 10, but he did not get a decision. He’s 0-1 with a 3.71 ERA in those three starts, the only three he’s ever made against the American League West rival.
Despite having faced the Rangers three times in the past seven weeks, Kaprielian never has gone head-to-head against two of the new faces in the Texas lineup — second baseman Yonny Hernandez and first baseman/DH Curtis Terry.
Hernandez followed celebrating his first major-league hit Friday with a promotion to the No. 2 spot in the lineup on Saturday, from where he singled twice and scored two of the Rangers’ three runs.
Texas has lost five in a row.
“I’m looking for anybody to step up at this point and take ownership of pushing us over the top as far as getting some runs on the board,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said of Hernandez. “He’s gritty, he gets on base, he controls the strike zone … all the things I feel like we need right now to put some pressure on that opposing pitcher.”
Righty Jordan Lyles (5-8, 5.25), who has a 3-0 career record against the A’s with a 2.87 ERA in six games (four starts), is expected to oppose Kaprielian.
The 30-year-old has gone 0-3 in his past four starts, with his last win having come on July 9 against the A’s in a 3-2 home triumph in which he allowed just two runs in six innings.
–Field Level Media