A’s aim for another offensive explosion at Rangers

MLB

A retooled lineup will try to help the Oakland Athletics remain on track Wednesday against the Texas Rangers in the third contest of a four-game series at Arlington, Texas.

The teams have split the first two games of the series, with the Athletics rebounding for a 10-3 win on Tuesday behind two-run home runs by Matt Olson and Marcus Semien, a three-run double by Stephen Piscotty and solid starting pitching from Sean Manaea.

Oakland has won five of its past seven games while the loss was the ninth in 10 outings for the Rangers. Texas’ lone win in that stretch came on Monday in the series opener by a 3-2 count.

The Athletics showed a different look on Tuesday, moving Piscotty to the fifth spot in the batting order for the first time this year. The struggling Olson was dropped to the sixth hole, and Ramon Laureano, normally the No. 2 batter, was moved to seventh.

Olson responded to the move with a single in the second inning and a tiebreaking two-run blast in the fourth. Piscotty’s key hit broke the game open in the seventh.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said the shuffle was to “move up some players in the order that are swinging the bat a little better right now.”

Melvin said, “I have no doubt that these guys will be back in their spots at some point in time. Over the course of a season, you do this several times. But my guess is it won’t be like this for long.”

Piscotty had batted seventh or eighth in 22 of his previous 25 starts this season after hitting in the fifth hole 26 times last year and 17 times in 2018. He is tied for first in the major leagues with 25 RBIs in August.

Texas outfielder/designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo was out of the lineup on Tuesday for the sixth consecutive game due to various aches and pains, most notably a strained oblique. Choo’s availability for Wednesday’s game will be determined after warmups.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said Tuesday that the team has opted not to put the 38-year-old veteran on the injured list in the hope that he can contribute sooner than later.

“We want to make sure that when he swings, he’s not risking blowing out that oblique,” Woodward said, according to MLB.com. “Overall (Choo) feels pretty good right now. But with these series, we’d like to have him available, even if it is only for one or two games. It was worth having him miss six or seven days at least so he could play in the last three.”

Oakland will send right-hander Mike Fiers (3-1, 5.81 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday. The Athletics are 5-1 in Fiers’ starts this year, including a victory over Texas on Aug. 6 when he allowed four runs in six-plus innings.

Fiers is 5-3 with a 5.78 ERA in 14 career games (13 starts) vs. the Rangers.

Texas is scheduled to counter with left-hander Kolby Allard (0-2, 7.82 ERA). Allard, who will either open the game on the mound or be the bulk pitcher in an opener strategy, didn’t make it out of the first inning in Seattle on Friday in his most recent start, allowing four runs in a 7-4 loss.

Allard will face the A’s for the first time in his career.

–Field Level Media

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