Series Preview: Oakland Athletics @ Texas Rangers - Great Western

For some reason, this photo of Ben Sheets is the first thing that comes up when you search "Oakland A's" in SB Nation's photo database

Last season, on the way to the best season in team history, the Rangers won the American League West by 10 games over the Anaheim Angels. It's easy now to see how they accomplished this feat; the Rangers beat the heck out of their divisional opponents. Last season the Rangers finished 40-17 against the rest of the American League West. Comparatively, the Angels had a 27-30 mark against their division mates. That was one game better in the division than the A's finished last season. The only team that had a similar amount of success last season against another division was the Phillies going 23-9 against the National League West.

Well, the Rangers are leading the West again this season. In fact, the Rangers are leading all of baseball in wins currently. However, the Rangers are taking a different route to success this season. The Rangers are 10-12 against their division rivals in 2012. That includes a 3-3 record against the Angels, a 5-5 record against the (second worst team in the American League) Mariners and a losing 2-4 record against these Oakland A's. For the Rangers to equal the win total they had last season against the West they would need to go 30-5 over the remainder of the season. Seems doable!

The attempt to restore order to the West begins with this weekend series against the A's. But, it may not be as easy as you might imagine it should be. The last time we hoped the Rangers would begin taking command against the division they lost a four game series against the A's in Oakland by a cumulative score of 24-8. That series included the following follies:

  • Tonight's starter Scott Feldman allowing eight runs in an inning and two-thirds.
  • Jarrod Parker carrying a no-hitter into the 8th inning.
  • Derek Holland leaving a game with shoulder flu.
  • Bartolo Colon needing only two hours to shutout the Rangers.
  • Yu Darvish having a rather satanic line of six hits, six runs, six walks.

The A's are having themselves a pretty decent season, relatively speaking. Overall they are only two games under .500 and have been playing well in June with a 15-10 record for the month. The A's have won five of their last seven series and are 11-4 since getting swept by the Diamondbacks mid-month. If the A's were in the American League Central, they'd only be 3 1/2 games out of first place.

But the A's do not play in the American League Central. The A's play in a division with the best team in baseball so they are 10 games back of first. It's about time for the Rangers to throw their weight around a little against the likes of the A's and Mariners so things are a little easier when they have to put away the Angels. They'll get their chance to do that beginning tonight.

Thursday, June 28 7:05: RHP Tyson Ross vs. RHP Scott Feldman

Friday, June 29 7:05: RHP A.J. Griffin vs. LHP Matt Harrison

Saturday, June 30 6:15: LHP Tommy Milone vs. RHP Justin Grimm (Possibly LHP Martin Perez)

Sunday, July 01 6:05: LHP Travis Blackley vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups for this series against the East Bay Bubb Rubbs:

  • Scott Feldman: 1-6, 6.86 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, .309 BABIP, 49.1% LOB, 4.08 FIP, 4.31 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 16.1 innings
  • Tyson Ross: 2-7, 4.94 K/9, 4.47 BB/9, .332 BABIP, 67.2% LOB, 5.26 FIP, 5.06 xFIP, -0.1 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 16.1 innings

Advantage: Scott Feldman has been better than someone at pitching in 2012!

  • Matt Harrison: 10-3, 5.36 K/9, 2.22 BB/9, .294 BABIP, 76.9% LOB, 3.57 FIP, 3.96 xFIP, 2.1 WAR - Last three starts: 1 run allowed in 18.1 innings
  • A.J. Griffin: 0-0, 6.00 K/9, 1.50 BB/9, .125 BABIP, 76.9% LOB, 4.39 FIP, 3.66 xFIP, 0.0 WAR - Only start: 2 runs allowed in 6.0 innings

Advantage: Matt Harrison in My Best Friend Is Invisible over A.J. Griffin is in line for a Justin Grimm-ing.

  • Justin Grimm: 1-1, 9.00 K/9, 1.29 BB/9, .500 BABIP, 44.1% LOB, 3.34 FIP, 2.92 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Only two starts: 9 runs allowed in 7.0 innings
  • Tommy Milone: 8-5, 5.33 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, .262 BABIP, 74.9% LOB, 4.43 FIP, 4.37 xFIP, 0.7 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 20.0 innings

Advantage: Tommy Milone over the combined 160 pitches Justin Grimm and Martin Perez have thrown in the big leagues in their lifetimes.

  • Yu Darvish: 10-4, 9.97 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, .298 BABIP, 75.7% LOB, 3.68 FIP, 3.72 xFIP, 2.0 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 23.0 innings
  • Travis Blackley: 1-2, 5.44 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, .267 BABIP, 58.5% LOB, 2.84 FIP, 4.02 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three appearances: 5 runs allowed in 21.0 innings

Advantage: I'm assuming Yu Darvish gains magical powers when facing a team for a third time over you're not in O.Co Coliseum anymore, Travis Blackley.

To8jb_medium

Oakland Athletics (37-39, 3rd Place AL West)

Rangers Record vs. Oakland: 2-4 (1-1 at The Ballpark)

Oakland's Recent Results: 2-1 series win against the Seattle Mariners

Oakland's Away Record: 18-20

The Ballpark Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 121/113 - wOBA: 104/107

SB Nation A's Blog: Athletics Nation

Match-up: (as of 06/27) Rangers A's Advantage
Batting (RAR) 55.9 (2nd) -32.2 (27th) Rangers
Base Running (RAR) 1.4 (11th) 1.3 (12th) Rangers
Starters (RAR) 45.8 15.3 Rangers
Bullpen (RAR) 35.1 (1st) 12.1 (16th) Rangers
Defense (UZR) 22.1 (3rd) 13.6 (8th) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 160.3 10.1 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • Including this series, the Rangers play teams from the A.L. West 35 more times over the course of the rest of the season; what is a record you would be satisfied with?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Might as well ride the Adrian Beltre heat wave.)
  • Over/Under: 4.5 runs allowed by a mad Scott Feldman tonight?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by whomever between Justin Grimm or Martin Perez starts on Saturday?
  • Which pitcher are you most excited to see return from the disabled list after the All-Star break?
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