Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s ready for heavyweight fight


Scooping the Texas Rangers banner

Alexi Ogando throws a pitch
Alexi Ogando takes the mound Friday for Texas in a critical three-game series in Oakland. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

If ever there was a time for a Texas Rangers four-game win streak the time is now. After sweeping the Los Angeles Angels and taking down the Arizona Diamondbacks in a makeup game, the Rangers travel west to Oakland for a heavyweight bout with the Athletics.

And what has happened over the last week couldn’t have happened at a better time for the Rangers. David Murphy is swinging a hot bat. After just two combined hits in seven games against the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, Murphy has four hits in four games, including a three-hit night against Arizona on Thursday.

Catcher A.J. Pierzysnki has six hits in 17 at-bats (.353) over the last four games, including a huge game-tying home run against the Angels in the first game of the series just a few days ago. The Rangers’ other catcher, Geovany Soto, is riding a seven-game hit streak including a 5-for-10 series against the Angels with two huge home runs, one of which was a game-winner on Monday night.

Needless to say, this offense has woken up at the exact right time. There’s something to be said about momentum and the Texas Rangers have that right now.

While most would have loved to have Yu Darvish on the mound tonight in what could be a huge three-game set for both teams, there’s really nothing to complain about when you have Alexi Ogando, Matt Garza and Derek Holland taking the ball in each of the next three games.

What was a six-game lead for the Oakland Athletics this past weekend is now down to a three-and-a-half game lead. Winning two of three in this series would be huge for the Rangers, especially since they face an Angels team in Anaheim that is looking for retribution after watching the Rangers hit three consecutive walk-off home runs in Arlington.

Texas has taken six of the 10 games with Oakland this season, including two of the last three.

If Ranger fans were looking for something to feel good about in the opening game of the series, look no further than A’s left-hander Tommy Milone, who was tagged for six runs in 5.1 innings the last time these two teams met.

You don’t need me to tell you how big this series is and what it means to the Texas Rangers long term. They can’t afford to lose any of the momentum they’ve built over the last four days, and they can’t afford to rest on their laurels. They have the right guys on the mound and the right guys swinging hot bats.

For a team that looked to be left for dead less than a week ago, they are starting to look like the team we saw when the 2013 season opened.

They are patient at the plate, getting big hits, winning games that looked to be well out of reach, and finally controlling their own destiny.

Instead of watching what’s happening in the wild-card race, it’s time to turn your attention back to the AL West race. We’re a long way from done, and the Texas Rangers are a long way from being out of contention.

The heavyweight fight continues tonight in Oakland. Can the momentum continue for this team? Or will the Oakland Athletics continue to surprise and amaze, making us ask the question: “How do they keep doing it?”

Alexi Ogando. You’re up.

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