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A’s hoping to break 8-game skid in opener with Rangers

Sportsnaut
Aug 9, 2022; Oakland, California, USA;  Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) watches Oakland Athletics starting pitcher James Kaprielian (32) during the first inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers know all about enduring growing pains that come with relying on young players.

The AL West rivals could compare notes when they begin a four-game series Monday night in Arlington, Texas.

The Athletics have lost eight straight, getting swept in three consecutive series, most recently in a three-game set by the host Houston Astros.

Texas, at least, is gaining some momentum, having taken two of three against the visiting Seattle Mariners.

In the series opener on Monday, the A’s will start right-hander James Kaprielian (3-6, 4.38 ERA). The Rangers turn to right-hander Glenn Otto (4-8, 5.20).

Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano exited Sunday’s 6-3 loss in the fourth inning after slipping near the right field wall. Stephen Piscotty took over in right.

The Athletics would miss his bat if he misses time this week. Laureano has played in 10 games against Texas this season. While his batting is an unspectacular .256 in those games, he has four home runs and eight RBIs.

While the A’s are rebuilding, the Rangers could be closer to contending.

Texas has been giving extended looks to rookies like infielder/outfielder Josh H. Smith, infielder Ezequiel Duran and outfielder Bubba Thompson.

“They’ve done a good job,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said on Sunday’s pregame radio segment. “I know that both of them at times, probably more on Smitty, he took it pretty hard. It looked like he was swimming upstream a little bit, trying to figure some things out, and beating himself up. Basically, all the things that young players do.

Duran is hitting .257; Smith is at .229.

“Ezequiel is a little more resilient,” Woodward said. “I think he’s super confident. But there’s also times when he’s looked at me with eyes wide after an at-bat, like, ‘That guy was tough.’ There’s obviously a learning curve here. They’re going to have to endure that, and figure things out.”

Texas has won eight of 13 games in the season series.

Kaprielian has faced the Rangers three times this season, and has yet to be involved in a decision. He made consecutive starts against them on July 12 and July 23, before and after the All-Star break.

In his last start, a loss to the visiting Los Angeles Angels, Kaprielian was encouraged that his fastball maxed out at 97.6 mph and averaged 94.8 mph.

“I’ve made good strides, and I know it’s in there,” Kaprielian said after his last game via MLB.com. “I feel good. It’s now about continuing to repeat.”

Kaprielian has a 4.40 ERA in 14 1/3 innings against Texas this year, and lifetime is 1-2 with a 4.47 ERA in nine starts.

Otto is 0-4 with a 4.66 ERA in his last seven starts. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.82 ERA in two starts this season against the A’s. In three career starts against Oakland, he’s 1-1 with a 9.24 ERA.

Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe has reached safely in 20 straight games after collecting two hits and a walk in Sunday’s win.

— Field Level Media