Two pitchers who tend to bring out the best in their teams' offense hope the trend continues Friday night when the Texas Rangers go for two in a row against the host Oakland Athletics
Pitching ruled the opener of a four-game series Thursday when Texas' Nathan Eovaldi (8 2/3 innings) and Will Smith combined on a three-hit shutout during a 4-0 win.
The victory came in Rangers manager Bruce Bochy's return to the San Francisco Bay Area after 13 successful seasons at the helm of the San Francisco Giants
The 68-year-old skipper admitted he felt like a winner even before taking the Oakland field for the series opener.
"It's always good to be back in the Bay Area," the three-time World Series champ said. "Great memories here. I don't know if that'll ever go away because we had some tremendous times and memories here. A lot of good friends. That stays with you, as it should."
Bochy added to those memories with the Thursday win, which gave his club five victories in seven outings on a 10-game Western swing.
Texas left-hander Martin Perez (4-1, 3.86 ERA) will try to keep the good times rolling even though he is coming off his worst performance of the season -- seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. However, only his stats were negatively affected as the Rangers powered to a 16-8 win
Perez pitched much better -- one run in six innings -- but likewise got more than ample offensive support in a 15-2 win over the New York Yankees in his previous start.
The 32-year-old veteran owns a 9-7 record with a 4.46 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) vs. Oakland.
Some A's players, including Carlos Perez (3-for-10 with a double), have had their fair share of success against the Rangers lefty over the years. However, perhaps the guy Perez needs to fear most is Oakland leadoff hitter Esteury Ruiz, who had two of his team's three hits Thursday
With his sights already set on Kenny Lofton's American League rookie record of 66 steals in a season, Ruiz was gunned down for the third time this year by Texas catcher Jonah Heim in the fourth inning Thursday. Ruiz leads the majors with 17 steals.
"It's a high number," A's manager Mark Kotsay said of Lofton's record, which has stood for 31 years. "It jumps out at you when you say it. But we're going to continue to be aggressive with him and utilize his speed."
The A's have lost five in a row, but they turn to a good-luck charm of sorts when left-hander Ken Waldichuk (1-2, 7.25 ERA) gets the start in the rematch.
The 25-year-old has started four wins in his last five outings even though he allowed 15 runs over 27 1/3 innings in those games (4.94 ERA). Oakland has won his past three starts 11-10 and 5-4 twice.
The second-year major-leaguer faced the Rangers in his third big-league start last September, and he allowed five runs in five innings during a no-decision
Former A's infielder Marcus Semien contributed to the Rangers' winning effort on Thursday, launching his seventh homer of the season
--Field Level Media