Rangers-Athletics Preview

The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers have had little trouble piling up runs while splitting the first two of their three-game series.

That trend could continue during Wednesday’s series finale between the AL West rivals at the Coliseum.

Oakland and Texas combined for 23 runs while the Rangers (35-36) won three of the first four meetings this season. In the last four, the clubs have totaled 63, with 39 scored by the A’s (43-28) while they’ve gone 3-1 during that stretch. After Texas homered four times during a 14-8 win in Monday’s opener, Oakland snapped a four-game home skid to the Rangers with a 10-6 victory on Tuesday.

Derek Norris hit a three-run homer and delivered a two-run double after not starting for the A’s, who have recorded 55 hits in the last four versus Texas and tagged Yu Darvish for seven runs – four earned – in five innings Tuesday.

"Five RBIs off the bench; that’s something special,” said Norris, who is 4 for 11 with five RBIs as a pinch-hitter. ”I don’t get any more or less aggressive whether someone is on or no one is on. I just try to put the barrel of the bat on the ball.”

One shy of matching his career high of nine home runs hit over 98 games in 2013, Norris is 9 for 19 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in his last five contests. The third-year catcher is 14 for 28 with six doubles, that home run and nine RBIs in his last eight against the Rangers after going 2 for 25 with one RBI and nine strikeouts in his previous nine versus Texas.

Teammate Sonny Gray (6-3, 2.93 ERA) has allowed three runs and seven hits in 16 innings while going 1-1 against the Rangers this season. The right-hander tossed a two-hitter during a 4-0 win at Texas on April 28.

Gray went 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his first 10 starts this season but is 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in the next four. He’ll look to avoid a third consecutive defeat after he gave up three runs in six innings of a 7-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday.

The A’s have totaled one run with Gray on the mound in his last two outings.

He’s never faced Texas rookie infielder Rougned Odor, who is 5 for 9 with a homer and three RBIs in the series and batting .312 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in 30 games this season.

Texas’ Nick Tepesch (2-2, 3.94) is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts against AL West opponents in 2014. He didn’t factor in the decision of a 1-0 win at Seattle on Friday, but hung with Felix Hernandez by allowing two hits in 6 1-3 innings for the best of his six starts since his season debut May 14.

”I don’t really try and focus on who I am throwing against,” said Tepesch, who retired the first 15 batters on 47 pitchers. ”It’s more about the hitters I’m facing. It’s just controlling what I can control.”

The right-hander faced Oakland three times last season, and in his only start against the A’s allowed six runs in a fourth inning he would not finish during an 8-7 home victory one year ago Tuesday.