Athletics-Rangers Preview

Amid a tragedy involving one of their fans, the Texas Rangers

are understandably shaken. That hasn’t derailed them from pounding

opponents in the final week before the All-Star break.

Looking for a season high-tying sixth consecutive win, AL

West-leading Texas continues its four-game set with the last-place

Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

Texas hit three homers, including a first-inning grand slam by

Mike Napoli, en route to an 8-5 win in Arlington on Friday. That

came one night after Shannon Stone, a 39-year-old firefighter, died

in a fall from the stands trying to catch a ball tossed by Josh

Hamilton.

The All-Star outfielder then hit another fan with a foul ball

while batting in the sixth. The unidentified teenage male had blood

on his face and was tended to by stadium personnel before walking

off under his own power with a compress on his head.

“I saw it happen. Again.” said Hamilton, who went 1 for 5.

Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre also went deep for the Rangers

(49-41), who lead the majors with 78 homers at home, where they’re

29-18. Texas has outscored opponents 44-16 while moving in position

for its longest winning streak since starting 2011 with a 6-0

mark.

The defending AL champs have taken three games in a row from the

A’s to even the season series at four apiece. Now, Colby Lewis

(8-7, 4.29 ERA) will try to beat Oakland for the third time this

season and fourth straight overall.

The right-hander has yielded just three runs and 11 hits in 15

1-3 innings against the Athletics in 2011, winning at home and on

the road.

Lewis improved to 3-0 in his last four starts after beating

Baltimore 13-4 on Monday to start the Rangers’ current run. Staked

to an early six-run lead, Lewis permitted three runs and five hits

in five innings.

Gio Gonzalez, Oakland’s lone All-Star representative, gave up

all three homers while lasting a season-low four innings Friday.

Scott Sizemore had a solo shot and Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp

also drove in runs for the A’s, who lead the majors with 30 road

losses in 46 games.

Following an impressive return from the disabled list in a

losing effort, Brandon McCarthy (1-5, 3.33) gets the start for

Oakland.

McCarthy, who missed nearly seven weeks with a stress fracture

in his shoulder blade, held Seattle to two runs and four hits in 6

2-3 innings on Monday, but the A’s fell 2-1.

“It was good to get back out there,” said McCarthy, who’s 0-5 in

his last eight starts. “I’m disappointed with the way I finished

and the way it kind of rolled out, but it was good to get back at

it.”

He failed to get a decision in the A’s 5-4, 10-inning win over

Texas on May 2. A former Ranger, McCarthy will be pitching in

Arlington for the first time since Sept. 27, 2009.