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Preview: Athletics (60-80) at Rangers (73-66)
Venue: Globe Life Park in Arlington
Date: September 11, 2015 8:05 PM EDT
The Texas Rangers’ offense falling flat during the stretch run of a playoff race is almost as discouraging as Colby Lewis’ recent performances on the mound.
What’s encouraging for the Rangers is that they’ve scored plenty at home lately, and Lewis has been solid against the Oakland Athletics this season.
Texas looks to avoid being shut out in three straight games for the first time in 46 years while ending a five-game skid to AL-worst Oakland on Friday night.
The Rangers (73-66) had their lead for the second wild card trimmed to one game over Minnesota with Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Seattle, which also dropped them 2 1/2 back of Houston in the West.
That ended a 5-5 road trip during which they were blanked four times. Texas mustered one hit in Wednesday’s 6-0 loss and is on the verge of suffering three straight shutouts for the first time since April 1969, when the franchise was known as the Washington Senators in Ted Williams’ first season as manager.
‘At this point of the year you don’t feel good about any loss,’ manager Jeff Banister said. ‘We get the opportunity to go home, sleep in our own beds and get up in the morning and play in our house. We’ve got to find a way to get this offense going in the right direction.”
The Rangers have won 16 of 20 in Arlington and have outscored opponents 18-5 during a four-game winning streak there. They’ve been outscored 34-15 while losing the last five meetings with the A’s (60-80), though, and they’ve also dropped four straight matchups at home.
Lewis (14-8, 4.68 ERA), who pitched as a reliever for Oakland in 2007, is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts against his former club this season while holding Brett Lawrie and Billy Butler to a combined 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts.
Texas was shut out twice with Lewis on the hill during its road swing, although he didn’t do much to help himself out, either. The right-hander has lost three straight starts with an 8.62 ERA and a .343 opponent batting average.
He’s struck out eight and walked nine in 15 2-3 innings in that stretch.
“I’m not gonna steer away from my strengths, what I do best,” Lewis said after allowing seven runs in Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels. “I’m gonna continue to run myself out there and do what I do.”
Jesse Chavez’s slump has lasted more than three months. Chavez (7-14, 4.17) posted a 2.11 ERA in eight starts and four relief appearances through May, but he’s gone 5-9 with a 5.52 ERA in his last 17 outings.
The right-hander lasted two-plus innings of Saturday’s 8-3 loss to Seattle in the shortest start of his career.
‘What’s going on is inconsistency,’ Chavez said. ‘One inning it will be good, one inning it will be bad. I have to get back to basics and let my stuff work.’
Chavez allowed four of his five runs in the fifth before being removed in an 8-6 win against the Rangers on June 23. Rougned Odor homered off Chavez and improved to 3 for 3 in their matchups.
Butler homered and had two RBIs while Josh Reddick added a two-run shot in Oakland’s 11-5 loss to Houston on Wednesday, its sixth defeat in eight games.