The Texas Rangers will seek another strong effort from a starting pitcher on Sunday when they face the host Oakland A’s in the finale of a three-game series.

Right-hander Garrett Richards (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will start for the Rangers in what the Dallas Morning News said could be a bullpen game for the team after original starter Spencer Howard was scratched. Richards will oppose left-hander Cole Irvin (1-1, 4.32) of the A’s.

The Rangers have gotten brilliant pitching in the first two games of the set, with starters Glenn Otto and Martin Perez allowing a total of one run and four hits over 11 innings in 8-1 and 2-0 victories.

Brad Miller has driven in three of the Rangers’ 10 runs, two on a tie-breaking single in the eighth inning Saturday after the clubs had played seven scoreless frames.

Irvin has pitched well for the A’s, starting 32 games last season and three this year, including a 4-2 loss at Philadelphia in the first series of the season.

The 28-year-old left-hander has rebounded to start a 6-3 win at Tampa Bay and a 2-1 win home victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, when he allowed just one run in five innings.

Irvin started five games against the Rangers last season, going 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA. Charlie Culberson was his biggest nemesis, going 7-for-16 with a double.

Richards, meanwhile, is 4-4 all time in 21 appearances against the A’s, with a 3.93 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings.

Even though Howard was scratched from his start on Sunday, Rangers manager Chris Woodward expects big things from him. The reason for the scratch wasn’t given, although Howard is just coming off the injured list because of a blister/cracked fingernail on his hand.

Richards will see an A’s offense that has been held to two runs or fewer in four of their last five games.

Oakland has only two homers over that stretch, both coming in Thursday’s 6-4 win over the Orioles when Cristian Pache and Sean Murphy went deep.

A’s manager Mark Kotsay chalked up the recent slump to “the ebbs and flow of the season.”

“We didn’t get the timely hits, which we’ve been able to do most of these 16 games,” he said after Saturday’s defeat. “Ultimately you get three hits and you don’t get the timely one, you’re not going to be on the positive side of the game.”

–Field Level Media