Showdown in the West


David Murphy (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

If you would have asked me Monday morning what I thought the chances of the Rangers and Athletics series this weekend being meaningful, I would have told you slim to none. But a lot has changed in a week, thanks to the Angels bull pen. The Rangers, now winners of four in a row, including back to back to back walk-offs against the Angels, head to Oakland ready to do battle. The division lead is now down to 3.5 games.

With the complete domination of Yu Darvish yesterday and the way the team has played lately, I for one have a good feeling about the weekend series with the Athletics. Tonight we get to see Alexi Ogando (4-3, 3.05 ERA) go against Tommy Milone (9-8, 4.10 ERA). Alexi is 0-1 with a 2.93 ERA in his last three starts. Even though I hope the Rangers continue their timely hitting on the road, I have a feeling that Alexi is going to do well tonight and that it will only take three to five runs to win tonight’s matchup. I think Alexi has a WAR of 1.4 and a RAR of 14, and I expect him to continue his good pitching ways tonight. I look for the Rangers to take game one of this series, which in my opinion, is almost like the first playoff series of the Rangers season. It may be overstating it in early August, but there is a big difference in being 6.5 games behind or being 2.5 games behind.

tomorrow on FOX television we will see the Rangers only trade acquisition Matt Garza (1-0, 1.88 ERA as a Ranger) going up againstJarrod Parker (6-6, 4.01 ERA).Garza has been great since becoming a Rangers, and I see no reason that will continue. Oakland has scored 481 runs so far this season, which is eighth best in the AL (the Rangers are ninth best at 469 runs scored), but I don’t think they are going to score many runs against Garza. Parker is 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA against Texas in his career, so if that holds the Rangers will have some trouble scoring. I still think Garza and the Rangers can scratch out another win against the A’s, but it will be a tough one. This could go either way.

Sunday the Rangers send Derek Holland (8-6, 3.16 ERA) against Oakland A.J. Griffin (10-7, 3.90 ERA). Derek has a 3.80 ERA in his last three starts, and he has not given up more than four runs in a game very often at all this season. This is a Sunday afternoon game, and the Rangers seem to play better at night. Hopefully they can find a way to get to ten game winner A.J. Griffin in this one. He is 1-0 with a 3.80 ERA against the Rangers in 21 innings in his career.Murphy is the best Rangers hitter against Griffin, being 2-3 with two RBI.

All in all, this should be a highly entertaining series. The A’s are coming off a series where they lost two out of three to the Blue Jays, and of course the Rangers are coming off of a sweep of the Angels plus a 7-1 strumming of the Diamondbacks. I really look forward to watching this one. Enjoy baseball this weekend.