Texas Rangers: 4 Keys to a quick sweep of the Oakland Athletics

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Jake Diekman (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Jake Diekman (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Texas Rangers host the Oakland Athletics for a brief two-game series beginning tonight. What must Texas execute to earn a series sweep?

After 20 consecutive games, the Texas Rangers finally got a day off yesterday. They will be back in action tonight as they host the Oakland Athletics for a brief two-game series. Oakland comes in with a 31-29 record, 7 games ahead of the Rangers in the American League West.

A top-heavy division leads to believe the A’s and Rangers will be fighting for “not last place” as the season streams on. While the upcoming series makes up 1.2% of the regular season, it sure would be nice to gain some momentum after a very up and down 20-game run in which Texas finished 9-11.

Here are the keys to a two-game sweep:

Game 1: Matt Moore vs. Sean Manaea

Force an average start from Manaea

The Texas Rangers should be able to handle Manaea, right? It’s not like he’s thrown a no-hitter or anything this season. No-hitter aside, Texas has a couple of things playing to their favor.

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ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 13: Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers pinch-hits for Willie Calhoun #55 of the Texas Rangers against the Seattle Mariners in the bottom of the sixth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 13, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

First off, they are very familiar with Sean Manaea. This is Manaea’s third year in the big leagues and he already has eight career start against the Rangers. He has had success, pitching to a 4-2 record with a 3.51 ERA over those eight starts. Regardless, Texas has seen him a lot; therefore, they should not be too surprised by what he has to offer.

Secondly, Manaea has been trending downward as of late. After posting a 4-2 record with a microscopic 1.03 ERA in March/April, the left-hander went 1-4 with a 7.18 ERA in May. He gave up two more home runs in May and struck out 18 less batters. Needless to say, his current trend plays favorably to the Rangers offense.

It isn’t fair to ask Texas to run Manaea out of the building after three innings; however, a sub-quality start would certainly help. Four runs over six innings could perhaps put them in a winning position?

The bullpen needs to be on point

We’ve learned not to put too much faith in Matt Moore. If he can contribute just five innings while keeping his team in the game then it will be considered a positive. But, it will leave much work to be done by the bullpen.

The Texas Rangers bullpen has been outstanding of late. So outstanding that Manager Jeff Banister probably won’t mind if tonight is a bullpen game. He’ll likely have Jesse Chavez ready to go early in case Moore stumbles out of the gates. Chavez has contributed greatly, actually posting a 0.00 ERA over his last 13 innings pitched. Also over that span, Chavez has held opposing hitters to a .125 batting average.

If the Rangers can find a lead into the 7th inning, expect dominance from a combination of Jake Diekman, Jose Leclerc and Keone Kela. Each appears to be in mid-season form. No excuses and all hands on deck. That’s what a day off does to a team.

Game 2: Bartolo Colon vs. Daniel Mengden

Expect vintage Bartolo

Bartolo Colon will be coming off his worst start of the season in which he allowed six earned runs over just three innings against the L.A. Angels. He gave up two home runs as well in that start and has now forfeited at least two long balls in four of his last seven starts. The three starts in which he hasn’t given up at least two resulted in three Rangers wins.

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So, that is the key. Colon needs to keep the ball in the yard by hitting his spots. At age 45, his two-seam fastball remains one of the toughest pitches to hit in the game (at least, so it seems). But he let way too many two-seamers drift over the heart of the plate against the Angels.

The ageless wonder is due…expect a long, impressive start from him Wednesday night.

Attack Mengden early

A’s starting pitcher Daniel Mengden has been quietly outstanding in 2018. He is 6-4 on the year with a 2.91 ERA. In the month of May, Mengden had a 1.47 ERA with an opponents batting average of .183. Unlike his teammate Sean Manaea, Mengden is becoming more dominant as the season progresses.

One of his 2018 losses did come to the Texas Rangers. Texas scored four runs off of him over 5.1 innings pitched in an ultimate 6-3 victory on April 5th.  The plan for the Rangers needs to be to attack Daniel Mengden early. Mengden’s first inning ERA this season is 4.50. Texas has not necessarily been a team to strike early; however, maybe some home cooking will give the offense a spark.

Speaking of home cooking, Mendgen has been rather poor away from his home. His road ERA goes up nearly a point on the road and his opponents batting average inflates to .280. Thus, there are a couple of positives for the Texas Rangers heading into game two of the series.

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Unfortunately, the Rangers have drawn Oakland’s best two arms. But Oakland is a familiar foe and anything can happen when these two teams meet, especially away from Oakland. Hopefully Texas can take care of business quickly and gain some momentum going into a tough four-game series against the Houston Astros beginning Thursday.