Pitching dominates competitive Rangers-A’s series

OAKLAND, Calif. — Two pitchers coming off strong season-opening efforts go head-to-head Wednesday night when the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics meet for the third time in their four-game series.

The Rangers will send Doug Fister (1-0), a winner in his first start over Houston, against Oakland lefty Sean Manaea (0-1), a hard-luck loser his first time out against the Los Angeles Angels.

The teams have split a pair of low-scoring affairs to open the series, with the A’s scoring two late runs to prevail 3-1 on Monday, before the Rangers did all their scoring early in a 4-1 triumph Tuesday.

The chances of a third pitching-dominated game are strong given the track records of the two starters.

Fister, a Northern California native who attended Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, has gone 8-8 with a fine 3.28 ERA in 18 career starts against the A’s, including allowing one run in 13 2/3 innings in a pair of wins in his last two starts in Oakland.

Manaea, meanwhile, has never lost to the Rangers at home, going 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts. He’s 3-2 overall with a 3.98 ERA in seven starts against Texas.

The first two games of the series haven’t resembled most of last year’s 19 matchups, when the winning team scored five or more runs 14 times.

It hasn’t happened yet in the first two games of the 2018 series.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he believes it’s a matter of time before the offenses pick up. He’s hoping his does so first.

“We have not had a good game offensively yet where we put some pressure on the pitching,” he insisted. “It’s not just one guy. We’re capable of scoring multiple runs and having big innings. We just haven’t done that yet.”

The A’s stranded 10 baserunners Tuesday, going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Oakland got no help from the Texas defense, which played error-free ball for the fifth time in six games.

“It really picked me up,” Fister praised of the defense in his impressive season debut. “It’s a big key for us, especially coming off spring training.”

Fister will have to deal with A’s first baseman Matt Olson, who has had two hits in each of the first two games of the series.

They’ve dueled only twice in their careers, with Olson belting a two-run homer and drawing a walk.

The offensive highlight Tuesday was Adrian Beltre’s second-inning single, the 3,053rd hit of his major league career.

It allowed him to tie Rod Carew for the most by a Latin American player. They now share 24th place on Major League Baseball’s all-time list, only two behind former A’s star Rickey Henderson.

Beltre went 1-for-4 on Tuesday and is hitting .227 this season.

The veteran has four of his 3,053 career hits against Manaea in 12 at-bats.

Joey Gallo, who hit his second home run of the season off Kendall Graveman on Tuesday, homered in his first at-bat against Manaea last April.