The Oakland Athletics seek to continue the momentum they’ve built over the past two weeks and increase their division lead when they face the reeling Texas Rangers in a doubleheader on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
Saturday’s second contest was necessitated when the two American League West rivals chose not to play their scheduled game on Aug. 27 in support of protests that had arisen against racial injustice after the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
The Athletics (28-15) have been cruising of late, winning six of their past eight games and building a seven-game lead over Houston in the AL West standings. Oakland roared past the Rangers (15-29) 10-6 in the series opener on Friday behind five RBIs from Matt Olson that included a first-inning grand slam.
Charged with keeping Oakland’s momentum will be right-hander Daulton Jefferies, the A’s No. 7 prospect who will make his major league debut in the doubleheader opener, where he will battle Rangers righty Nick Goody (0-0, 6.23 ERA), who comes out of the bullpen to make his first start of the season.
Goody has appeared in seven games against the Athletics during his career, including two meetings this year, and he has yet to give up a run in seven innings.
Game 2 of the doubleheader will feature A’s righty Chris Bassitt against Rangers left-hander Kolby Allard. Bassitt (3-2, 3.12 ERA) struggled in his final four August starts, going 1-3 with a 5.95 ERA in 19 2/3 innings, but he enjoyed a reversal of fortune in his one start in September, pitching seven scoreless innings to get the win over the Houston Astros on Sept. 7.
For his career, Bassitt is 1-2 with a 5.84 ERA in eight games (four starts) against the Rangers but he hasn’t faced them yet this season.
Allard (0-5, 7.22 ERA) has lost his last five starts, surrendering 22 runs in 19 2/3 innings (10.07 ERA) in those outings as he walked 13 batters and gave up 21 hits while striking out 19. Included in that stretch was his only career meeting with the A’s, when he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing two runs on Aug. 26.
But all is not rainbows in the East Bay. Oakland revealed before Friday’s game that left-handed starter A.J. Puk, the Athletics’ first pick in the 2016 draft, will undergo shoulder surgery on Wednesday. Puk already had Tommy John surgery in April 2018, and he began throwing again on Aug. 15 and was being considered for a spot in the bullpen before suffering shoulder pain again.
“For A.J. it’s obviously been a tough road for him,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said Friday. “Going back and forth, ramping up, now the shutdown. Obviously there’s something going on in there that needs to be taken care of.”
Friday’s game was the major league debut of Rangers catcher Sam Huff, the No. 2 prospect in their system. Huff was called up from Texas’ alternative training site to get some work behind the plate while regular backstop Jose Trevino is unavailable because of a sprained left wrist.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward said the team has been searching for the right moment to bring up Huff and this opportunity kind of fell into Texas’ lap.
“I didn’t want to see Trevino go down for any time period, but if it meant getting Sam here for that reason, we were all kind of on board with that,” Woodward told mlb.com. “Sam’s obviously put a ton of work in on the other side, just in his game-calling and thought process in games and how he would handle it if he got called up.”
Huff went 0-for-3 on Friday with a walk in four at-bats.
–Field Level Media