Oakland A’s day off report: Preview of the A’s six-game road trip to Texas and Seattle

May 11, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 26: Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre jokes around in the dugout before the MLB game between the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers on April 26, 2017 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s have an off-day on Thursday as they travel to Arlington, Texas to play the Rangers over the weekend. After the conclusion of the three-game set with Texas, the A’s fly to Seattle for three more and then return home to start a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.

The A’s, who went 2-7 on their last road trip, returned home and won four of six from the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels. The A’s are actually 5-2 as the won the last game of the road trip in Minnesota. The A’s won three of their four wins in walk-off fashion. They stunned the Tigers twice and the Angels once.

The A’s are currently tied for third-place in the AL West with the Angels. Both teams are two games under the .500 mark. The A’s are 16-18 while the Angels are 17-19. The Mariners are in second place with a record of 17-17. The Texas Rangers are in last place with a record of 15-20 and are 8 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros. However, they are just 1 1/2games behind the A’s and Angels.

The Rangers, who were expected to challenge Houston for the division crown, are not playing well. Their All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre is on the DL with a strained calf muscle. The Rangers are hoping Beltre will return by the end of May. Beltre who will turn 38 later this year and needs just 58 more hits to reach 3000. Players that own that many hits as a player are almost certain to enter baseball’s Hall of Fame. The Rangers’ high-powered offense has gone into hibernation. Big Mike Napoli is hitting .160. Napoli had a huge year with Cleveland in  2016 hitting over 30 homers and driving in more than 100 runs. So far this season, he has five dingers and just thirteen RBIs. Second baseman Rougned Odor, who has been a thorn in the side of the A’s since he arrived in Texas, is also hitting under the Mendoza line with an average of just .194. All-Star catcher Johnathan Lucroy is hitting .230 with 2 homers and six RBIs. The Ranger outfielders Delino DeShields, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Rua, are hitting .231,.219, and .173 respectively. Nomar Mazara is hitting .234 with five homers and has knocked in 23. The big gun for Texas has been third baseman, Joey Gallo. The highly-touted Gallo has had problems staying up with Texas. However, he seems to have been able to figure things out and has hit eleven home runs, tied for second with Yonder Alonso of the A’s, and leads the club with 24 RBIs. The rap on Gallo is that he strikes out too much.

The Rangers are missing Cole Hamels from their rotation. Hamels may be on the DL. Three of the starters have a losing record. Andrew Cashner is 0-3, Nick Martinez 0-2, and Martin Perez is 0-5. Yu Darvish is 3-2, and former Athletic A.J.Griffin is 4-0. The A’s will face Cashner, Martinez, and Griffin this weekend. The A’s will counter with Jesse Hahn, Sonny Gray, and Kendall Graveman. Hahn appears to be more consistent and has been able to give the A’s innings. Sonny Gray has had two outings and has not yet returned to form. He has shown some of his former brilliance but isn’t quite back to the Sonny Gray of 2015. Hopefully, he will regain his touch this weekend. Kendall Graveman pitches on Sunday. Graveman has been consistent all year. He gave up two runs Monday night against the Angels in the first inning but settled down and did not let the Angels score again. The A’s won that game in the eleventh inning when Jed Lowrie hit a home run to give the A’s their third consecutive walk-off win.

A’s manager Bob Melvin expressed that he is quite pleased with the work of his bullpen. In the last two games against the Angels, the reliever did not allow the Angels to score. Tuesday night, the bullpen held the Angels hitless after the sixth inning. On Wednesday, Liam Hendriks, Ryan Madson, and Santiago Casilla allowed the Halos just one hit and no runs as the A’s won 3-1. The Rangers’ bullpen needs to improve if the Rangers are to move up in the standing. Ranger manager will be calling on Matt Bush, Sam Dyson, Keone Kela, Jeremy Jeffress, Tony Barnette, Dario Alvarez, and Alex Claudio to hold the opposing offense down. Bush and Claudio are the only relievers with saves so far.Bush has two and Claudio one.

On Monday the A’s play the Mariners. The Mariners started slowly but are now 17-17 for the year.  The Mariners are missing Felix Hernandez who is on the DL. The Mariners have shorstop Jean Segura back from injury and are led by third baseman Kyle Seager and second baseman Robinson Cano. Nelson Cruz is the designated hitter and he is a threat to homer every time he gets to the plate. Hisashi Iwakuma and reliever Evan Scribner are also on the DL. The Mariners are trying to patch together a starting rotation and maybe, just maybe, the A’s can take advantage of the Mariners’ woes.

The A’s are hoping to have better results on this road trip. If they can win four of the six games, they will be back at .500 just in time to face the Red Sox. The A’s are showing signs of improvement. Yonder Alonso has been on a tear. He is hitting about .300 and has eleven homers and was named the AL Player of the Week. Jed Lowrie is hitting doubles and homers again. Lowrie was sidelined with a foot injury last year but it looks like he has healed. Mark Canha was recalled from Nashville and he had two hits in the game against the Angels on Wednesday. His first hit was a rocket to left and he may earn some more playing time. The A’s need Matt Joyce, Rajai Davis, and Stephen Vogt to get better on offense, Joyce is hitting under .200. Davis and Vogt are barely above. 200. Khris Davis is slumping. He hit ten homers early in the season but he is not hitting and has been striking out a lot. He did single to drive in a run on Wednesday.

Let’s hope the A’s get hot on this trip and that big crowds will be on hand when the play the Red Sox next week.

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About rxslugger

Retired pharmacist who now has a career as a sports writer and broadcaster

View all posts by rxslugger

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