The Oakland Athletics will seek to bounce back from one of their more gut-wrenching losses of the season when they close out a three-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Just one game out of an American League wild-card spot at the time and leading the Rangers (52-89) by four runs in the eighth inning Saturday, the A’s (77-65) watched three different relievers surrender a home run in an 8-6 setback.
“We felt like we were in a really good position to win that game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s hard to give up five in the eighth inning when you feel like you have the game under control. We just have to go out (Sunday) and try to win a series and put one of these tough games behind us again.”
Oakland recorded a 10-5 win in the series opener on Friday night.
The A’s are hoping right-hander James Kaprielian (7-4, 3.81 ERA) can limit the exposure of the club’s struggling bullpen with a strong effort in the series finale.
Kaprielian, 27, is coming off a strong outing after limiting the Chicago White Sox to one run in four innings on Tuesday. The A’s went on to lose the game 6-3, with four relievers combining to serve up five runs.
Kaprielian will be making his sixth start of the season against the Rangers, with his first five having been remarkably similar. He’s allowed either two or three runs in all five while getting from 15 to 18 outs in each, going 1-1 even though he left three of the five with a lead.
The five starts were the first five of his career against the Rangers. He’s compiled a 3.81 ERA in those outings.
DJ Peters, Jonah Heim and Leody Taveras provided the Rangers’ power in Saturday’s win. Peters and Heim each belted a two-run homer in the five-run eighth inning, before Taveras added an insurance run with a solo shot in the ninth.
The homer by Heim was particularly pleasing for the former member of the A’s. He was dealt to the Rangers over the winter as part of a package for Elvis Andrus.
“As a young team and young guys, it shows you can win a ballgame at any time,” Heim gushed afterward. “It just proves to these guys to stay on course and keep fighting until the last out.”
The Rangers will turn to left-hander Taylor Hearn (5-4, 3.95) in an effort to improve to 3-0-1 in their last four series.
After coming out of the bullpen in all but three of his first 34 appearances, Hearn has made four consecutive starts and has gotten progressively better over his last three, all wins.
He allowed just eight runs in those wins while increasing his workload from five innings to seven, the latter coming in his most recent outing against the Angels.
Hearn has faced the A’s three times this season, including once as an opener. He gave up a home run to Matt Chapman in that game and was unable to finish the first inning, allowing four runs in a 13-6 loss.
Hearn is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in five career head-to-heads with Oakland, including the one start.
–Field Level Media