Since the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics have excelled on
the mound recently, it’s not surprising that Cliff Lee and Dallas
Braden each turned in complete games in their last outings, albeit
with different results.
The left-handers will meet Friday night when Lee and the AL
West-leading Rangers begin a three-game road series against Braden
and the Athletics.
This series pits the teams with the best ERAs in baseball since
the All-Star break. Oakland (54-53) leads the majors in that span
at 2.98, while Texas (63-45) is right behind at 2.99.
The Athletics have won eight of their last 11 at home, where
they have a major league-best 2.89 ERA. However, the Rangers have
won five of nine in the season series, with eight of those games
decided by three runs or fewer.
“We have our work cut out,” Athletics manager Bob Geren told
MLB.com. “They have some good pitchers. That being said, our
pitchers have been very good, and they tend to pitch better at
home. We’ll probably have some close games.”
Lee (9-5, 2.51 ERA) hasn’t lost consecutive starts all year, but
fell to 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in five starts with Texas after
scattering nine hits in a 4-1 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels
“Getting deep in games and giving the team a chance to win,
that’s a starting pitcher’s job,” said Lee, who leads the AL in ERA
and complete games (seven). “All I can do is throw strikes and make
the other team swing the bat.”
The nine straight starts in which Lee has pitched at least eight
innings is the longest such streak in the majors since Pat
Hentgen’s 12-game run for Toronto in 1996.
Lee may have an easy time making it 10 in a row Friday based on
his lone previous start against Oakland this year. He struck out a
career-high 13 and pitched nine innings in a 3-1, 10-inning victory
Braden (6-7, 3.63), meanwhile, has won consecutive starts after
going 0-5 with a 4.10 ERA in his first nine outings following his
perfect game May 9 against Tampa Bay. Braden gave up eight hits and
threw a season-high 111 pitches in Saturday’s 6-2 victory over the
Chicago White Sox.
“That’s the confidence we’re all seeking from our manager. It’s
good to see he has that confidence,” Braden said of being allowed
to go the distance. “More than often it’s safer to go with matchups
but the boys got on them early today and I was able to do it from
Braden is 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in three career home starts
against the Rangers, and up three runs over seven innings May 3 in
a 4-2 loss. Michael Young (7 for 17), Josh Hamilton (4 for 7) and
Vladimir Guerrero (3 for 6) have all had success against him.
Young is 13 for 35 against Oakland this year, and Hamilton is 16
The Rangers have matched a season high in building their
division lead to 8 1/2 games over the A’s. Texas improved to 3-3 on
its nine-game trip after Tommy Hunter pitched 6 1-3 effective
innings and David Murphy homered for the second straight night in
Thursday’s 6-0 victory over Seattle.