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Preview: Athletics (60-81) at Rangers (74-66)
Venue: Globe Life Park in Arlington
Date: September 12, 2015 8:05 PM EDT
Texas could be emerging from a terrible offensive funk, and it might just be passing it down the line to Oakland.
A night after Colby Lewis flirted with perfection, Yovani Gallardo will try to keep a nice personal unbeaten run going as the Rangers and Athletics meet Saturday in Arlington.
After being shut out in consecutive games with a total of five hits, the Rangers (74-66) opened the three-game series and a 10-game homestand with Friday’s 4-0 win, limiting the A’s (60-81) to two hits and ending a five-game skid in the series.
Texas still hasn’t had a double-digit hit performance over a 5-4 span while batting .182, and Adrian Beltre is in a 3-for-30 slump. The club’s six home runs in the last 12 games are more than only Atlanta, and a little more power might help the Rangers track down Houston or shake Minnesota.
The Astros lead the AL West by 1 1/2 games, while the Twins are a game off the Rangers’ pace for the second wild card.
Gallardo (12-9, 3.16 ERA) is 5-0 in his last nine starts, though he hasn’t made it through more than six innings in that time. The right-hander earned the decision in Monday’s 3-0 win at Seattle after giving up five hits over 5 1-3 innings for his third scoreless start in his last four.
“I felt good,” Gallardo told MLB’s official website. “My last start in San Diego, I was struggling with the command of my fastball and I worked on that between starts trying to find a good rhythm. I was able to do that and move the ball on both sides of the plate.”
In four career starts against the A’s, including three this season, Gallardo is 0-3 with a 5.32 ERA, though he didn’t factor into the decision in a 5-4 loss at Oakland on June 10 after giving up two runs and five hits with 10 strikeouts over seven innings.
Stephen Vogt is 3 for 6 with a homer and two doubles off Gallardo, but Danny Valencia (0 for 6) and Billy Butler (0 for 5 with four strikeouts) have struggled.
The A’s, who just started a 10-game trip, have lost seven of nine this month, but it’s been mostly their pitching shouldering the blame with an 8.06 ERA out of the rotation. Sean Nolin is making his second career start for Oakland.
Nolin’s major league debut in Sunday’s 3-2 home loss to Seattle was promising before a three-run fifth, and the 25-year-old gave up five hits with three walks in six innings.
“I thought he threw the ball really well,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Kept them off-balance, really not too many good swings, it was just the two walks that ended up costing him some runs.”
The left-hander, who was part of the Josh Donaldson deal in the offseason, didn’t go beyond 4 2-3 innings in his last four starts with Triple-A Nashville and only appeared in 14 games this season because of two injuries. His 85 pitches was his highest total since throwing 102 on June 27 before missing nearly two months.
“That’s the deepest I’ve been in a game for a while,” Nolin said. “I was definitely happy about it. I’m physically feeling good.”
Oakland’s Billy Burns missed Friday’s game due to right hamstring tightness. Manager Bob Melvin said there was no timetable for Vogt’s return after the catcher was hit in the groin by a foul tip Sunday but he could DH.