The last time the A’s played the Texas Rangers, they finished a series win at Texas with a 7-1 victory behind Sonny Gray on May 3. At the time, the A’s were in third place in the American League West, two games ahead of the last-place Rangers.
Since then, the A’s have gone 12-21 entering Tuesday to fall 11 games out of first place. The Rangers, meanwhile, are 22-11 in that span, climbing to second place, three games behind Houston.
“Their starters have done a nice job for them. They’ve played well all the way around,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of the Rangers. “It’s a different team we’re playing, no doubt.”
Prince Fielder has led the charge for the Rangers offensively, batting .356 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs. Texas also recently called up top prospect Joey Gallo, and Tuesday against Gray, the Rangers had an all-left-handed two-through-five part of their order in Shin-Soo Choo, Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Gallo.
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The A’s looked as if they might have been turning a corner after sweeping the Tigers in Detroit last week. But they then were swept in a three-game series at Boston, culminating with a 7-4 loss Sunday in a game they led 4-0 entering the eighth.
Melvin said he was glad the A’s had a day off Monday to “recharge” before a three-game series against Texas. It begins a stretch in which the A’s play 12 of 16 games against the Rangers and Los Angeles Angels – a chance to move within the division, though Melvin said that right now, “I don’t think it really matters who we play.”
“We just need to play better,” Melvin said. “We felt like in Detroit we made some strides and went into Boston feeling pretty good, and then got knocked around a little bit. … You have to continue to persevere and know that this is going to make you tougher.”
Melvin shuffled the middle of his lineup to give some hitters “a little change of scenery.” Josh Reddick moved up to the No. 2 spot – he was 5 for 9 lifetime against Rangers starter Nick Martinez. The full lineup:
And the Rangers’ lineup:
▪ Right-hander A.J. Griffin will make his next rehabilitation start Friday with Triple-A Nashville and is expected to throw five innings, Melvin said. Griffin, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, pitched four innings for Class-A Stockton on Sunday and allowed just one hit with four strikeouts.
“He felt great,” Melvin said. “Economical in his pitches, using all his pitches. He really feel like he’s getting back to a place where he was before this went down.”
Melvin had a couple of other injury updates. Ike Davis (quadriceps) will run the bases Wednesday and could start a rehab assignment this weekend. Reliever Edward Mujica (broken finger) played catch from 120 feet Tuesday and could throw off a mound this weekend.
Melvin had no news on Coco Crisp (cervical strain) or Sean Doolittle (shoulder strain).
▪ After taking shortstops Richie Martin of Florida and Mikey White of Alabama with their two picks on Day One of the Major League Baseball draft, the A’s did branch out a little during rounds three through 10 Tuesday. The A’s used their third-round pick on right-handed pitcher Dakota Chalmers out of North Forsyth High School in Georgia and their fourth-round selection on center fielder Skye Bolt from the University of North Carolina.
Scouting director Eric Kubota said the A’s were “really excited” about the day overall. Kubota said it was “an opportunity” when Chalmers was available in the third round and with Bolt, “I think it’s a consensus through the industry there’s first-round ability there.”
The list of picks on Day Two, with round, position, year, school and hometown:
(3) Dakota Chalmers, RHP, Sr., North Forsyth High School, Gainesville, Ga.
(4) Skye Bolt, CF, Jr., North Carolina, Woodstock, Ga.
(5) Kevin Duchene, LHP, Jr., Illinois, Plainfield, Ill.
(6) Bowdien Derby, RHP, Jr., San Diego State, Duarte
(7) Kyle Friedrichs, RHP, Sr., Long Beach State San Clemente
(8) Nicholas Collins, C, Jr., Georgetown, Carthage, N.C.
(9) Jared Lyons, LHP, Sr., Liberty, Yorktown, Va.
(10) Steven Pallares, OF, Sr., San Diego State, Corona
One note: Melvin isn’t involved much in the drafting process, but he said he ducked into the A’s draft room Monday to watch the first two rounds.
“Just go in there to watch and support those guys,” Melvin said. “It’s kind of cool to see (the scouting department is) all in there – it’s their game day … . They’re very prepared in there, so it’s fun to watch.”