Rangers vs. A’s: Series Matchup

By EDDIE MIDDLEBROOK
FOXSportsSouthwest.com


Fans would have liked to see a sweep over the Mariners, but will have to settle
for winning the series while the Angels were swept by Baltimore. Texas goes into
Oakland Coliseum leading the season series with the A’s, 5-4.

Friday: Cliff Lee (9-5, 2.51 ERA) vs. Dallas Braden (6-7, 3.63 ERA)

Last Sunday against the Angels, Lee struggled as he gave up nine hits and four
runs and lost to the Angels, 4-1. He pitched against the A’s on July 27 and got
the no-decision despite pitching nine innings and only giving up one unearned
run and struck out 13 Athletics’ hitters. Lee still leads the American League in
ERA, WHIP (0.92), and complete games (7). Dallas Braden has recently found
success again after winning his last two starts including a complete game
against the White Sox where he only gave up two runs and struck out five in the
6-2 victory.  He has one start against the Rangers this year where he got the
loss despite pitching well: Seven innings and only three runs. The advantage:
Always goes to the Rangers when Cliff Lee is on the mound and this time is no
different. He pitched strong against the A’s last time out and should benefit
from being on the road in that pitcher’s park.

Saturday: Rich Harden (4-3, 5.25 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.69 ERA)

The last time Harden faced the A’s in Oakland, all he did was go seven strong
innings, give up two hits, no runs and struck out nine while getting the
victory. He is also coming off a similar start where he went seven strong
innings against the Angels and only gave up one run in the 2-1 victory. Getting
the good Harden back is almost like trading for another pitcher at the trade
deadline, but the jury is still out. Gio Gonzalez also had a strong start
against the Rangers on July 27, but unfortunately for him, Cliff Lee was his
opponent. He went six innings and only gave up one run. He is the A’s version of
C.J. Wilson: lefty that has a solid ERA and gets plenty of strikeouts, but has
too many walks (he is second in the A.L. only to C.J.). The advantage goes to
the A’s because Gonzalez is 5-3 at home with a solid ERA (3.27) and the Rangers
never know which Harden will show up.

Sunday: Colby Lewis (9-8, 3.45 ERA) vs. Trevor Cahill (11-4, 2.72 ERA)

Lewis has pitched well in his last three starts, but has received three losses
for his troubles. The problem has been a lack of run support as Texas has only
scored four runs in his last three starts. He faced Cahill on July 28 and
pitched well enough for the win: Seven innings and only one run with eight
strikeouts. The aforementioned Cahill won that game by going eight innings
strong, no runs, and striking out four. Overall against Texas, he is 2-0 in
three starts this season while having a 0.96 ERA. He is also 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA
at home this season and opponents are hitting .187 off of him. The advantage:
Goes to the dominant Cahill and the A’s as it seems that the Rangers have no
answer for him.

The series outlook: The Athletics should take two of three from Texas making the
road trip record 4-5 which is not terrible considering two of the three teams
need to make up a lot of ground to win the West.

What to watch for:

Does David Murphy continue to see playing time after providing a spark in the
lineup the last two nights?

Guzman and Cantu’s defense has been solid, but will their offense pick up and
provide help?

If Harden puts two solid starts in a row together, do Rangers’ fans begin to
trust him as part of the rotation?