The Oakland Athletics will look to get back on the winning track when they focus back on the A.L. West and the hapless Texas Rangers on Monday in the opener of a four-game series in Arlington, Texas.
The A's dropped the final two games of a three-game weekend series to the New York Yankees in the Bronx. Oakland fell 2-1 in the Sunday afternoon finale on a game-ending triple play that erased the A's final chances in the ninth inning.
Matt Olson homered in the first inning for Oakland's only run, while Sean Manaea suffered the tough-luck defeat. Manaea recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and allowed his only runs on Gary Sanchez's two-run double in the sixth.
The A's have won seven of their past nine games and are tied with Houston for first place in the division.
Right-hander Frankie Montas draws the starting pitching duties for the A's on Monday. Montas (7-6, 4.21 ERA) has posted a 3.07 ERA and 46 strikeouts over his past seven starts. He held the Los Angeles Angels to two runs and five hits over seven innings in an Oakland victory on June 15, fanning eight and walking just one.
Much has been made of the chemistry of the Oakland starting staff, and Montas said they often seek each other's advice and evaluation of opposing batters' strengths and weaknesses.
"Being able to, every inning I go to (the other starters) and ask what they think about this pitch, how should I be pitching to this guy (is valuable)" Montas told the East Bay Times. "They can see something I can't when I'm pitching. Just being able to talk to them during the game and ask them questions, that helps a lot."
The Rangers have lost six straight games and have suffered back-to-back series sweeps at home against Houston and Minnesota. Texas fell to the Twins 4-2 on Sunday as the Rangers were limited to just six hits, two of them solo home runs by Adolis Garcia and Joey Gallo.
Starter Dane Dunning took the loss, giving up all four runs in four innings for Texas, which is 18 games behind the division leaders and has the second-worst record in the A.L.
"Nothing has changed as far as how we're going to go through our days and the energy and the positivity, but it's tough," Texas manager Chris Woodward said. "And I hope it's really tough on the players, as well, without consuming them.
"The one thing I don't want to do is get comfortable losing. That's the biggest fear I have with a young team, that they're, 'Ah, we just lost. Big deal.' I want it to hurt."
The Rangers will counter with ace righthander Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.09 ERA). He has allowed more than two runs in a game in only two of his 13 starts this season and comes off two consecutive no-decisions, most recently on June 15 when he scattered seven hits and allowed one run in six innings.
Against the A's in his career, Gibson is 3-3 with a 4.72 ERA in eight starts.
--Field Level Media