Mar. 15, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Anthony Recker catches the ball as Texas Rangers base runner Adrian Beltre (29) scores ahead of the tag in the third inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Series Preview: Oakland Athletics @ Texas Rangers

Coming off of their first time getting swept this season, the Rangers now have to bounce back quickly for a two game series against the second place Oakland Athletics.

The Athletics have surprised quite a bit of people and have held their ground even with Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson not having pitched a game and Yoenis Cespedes now on the disabled list as well. Part of his absence has been filled by the unexpected rise of Brandon Inge who was picked up after getting released by the Detroit Tigers earlier this season.

Probable Starters:

Wednesday 7:05 CDT TEX: RHP Yu Darvish (5-1, 2.84 ERA/3.72 FIP) – OAK: LHP Tom Milone (5-2, 3.92 ERA/4.26 FIP)

Last week, there were two similar pitchers in Darvish and Wilson. Today, two very different pitchers. Darvish is probably as good as advertised right now, and the Rangers would love for him to go far in the game. Last time out, he only went 6 innings in the win, but was very good. Teams are playing tons of left-handed hitters against Yu. Part of that may be the fact that he’s sandwiched by the two lefties, but teams may sense an advantage. But there isn’t a real one.

vs LHH: 125 batters faced .257/.352/.339
vs RHH: 72 batters faced .183/.319/.367

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In his season debut, Milone made history going 8 innings, picking up the win and not getting a single strikeout. His K/9 is now over 5 (still below average), but the biggest story for Milone is his home and away splits. In Oakland, pitch-to-contact pitchers thrive because of the foul territory in the park. At home? 0.39 ERA. On the road? 7.84. His BB/9 almost doubles on the road as well, possibly trying to hit his spots with more urgency.

Of note: In reality, there isn’t much difference between home Milone and road Milone. He has a 3.89 xFIP at home and a 4.55 xFIP on the road. (xFIP is FIP but taking into account the stadium and park effects.)

Thursday 1:05 CDT TEX: LHP Matt Harrison (4-2, 5.11 ERA/4.17 FIP) – OAK: RHP Brandon McCarthy (3-1, 3.38 ERA/2.86 FIP)

Harrison pitched well last time out, just not well enough for the win. Last time, I talked about his groundballs and last time out he only got three in 6 innings. The good news was he only allowed four hits. Harrison seems on the cusp of turning it around and maybe needs a little bit of luck to turn the corner.

Last year, most wrote off former Ranger McCarthy as a fluke. This year, he has almost the exact same numbers across the board. His success is sustainable. Expect a lot of groundballs in this one, which is perfect for a team trying to break out of a mini-slump.

Projected Athletics Lineup

1 2B Jemile Weeks (S)
2 SS Cliff Pennington (S)
3 RF Josh Reddick (S)
4 LF Seth Smith (L) vs RHP // Jonny Gomes vs LHP
5 DH Kila Ka’aihue (L)
6 3B Brandon Inge
7 1B Daric Barton (L)
8 C Kurt Suzuki
9 CF Collin Cowgill

(source MLBDepthCharts)

Hot/Cold (Last 7 Days)

Josh Reddick (Hot-OAK) .370/.469/.778 (10/27), 1 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB
Seth Smith (Hot-OAK) .348/.464/.609 (8/23), 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB
Daric Barton (Cold-OAK) 2/21 (.095), 1 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K
Jonny Gomes (Cold-OAK) 3/20 (.150/.227/.150), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K
Nelson Cruz (Hot-TEX) .391/.462/.739 (9/23), 2 HR, 7 RBI
Josh Hamilton (Hot-TEX) .385/.452/.885 (10/26), 1 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 10 K
Michael Young (Cold-TEX) .167/.194/.233 (5/30), 2 2B, 1 RBI, 5 K
Adrian Beltre (Cold-TEX) .233/.226/.267 (7/30), 4 RBI, 4 K

For more information on the Angels see FanSided’s Athletics page, Swingin’ A’s.

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Tags: Brandon McCarthy Matt Harrison Oakland Athletics Texas Rangers Tom Milone Yu Darvish

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