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Athletics auditioning as they open series with Rangers

Jul 21, 2022; Oakland, California, USA;  Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy (12) hits a three run home run during the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics hope showcasing potential trade assets works out as well Friday as it did 24 hours earlier as they open a three-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers.

Pitcher Frankie Montas, catcher Sean Murphy and closer Lou Trivino all added to their resumes Thursday when they shared the starring role in a 5-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers in the second game of a doubleheader.

The Tigers won the opener, 7-2.

Just 12 days away from the trade deadline, the A’s chose to start Montas coming out of the All-Star break — even though he had been shelved since July 3 after experiencing pain behind his right shoulder in an aborted, one-inning outing against the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s primary trade chip from an already export-depleted roster, Montas worked three shutout innings, limited to 53 pitches. That was good enough news for Oakland, but he doubled down on it by proclaiming good health afterward.

“I felt like I was ready to go, but they had me on a pitch count,” Montas reported. “That’s OK. We’ll see how I feel (Friday). But right now, I feel real good.”

Murphy and Trivino, arguably Oakland’s two most valuable players on the trade market other than Montas, did their part after the staff ace left Thursday’s game. Murphy hit a three-run homer, and Trivino pitched a scoreless, two-strikeout ninth.

In the Rangers, the A’s will see a team that could be a buyer at the trade deadline. After beefing up with the offseason acquisitions of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, Texas still finds itself seven games behind in the American League wild-card race even after an 8-0 win at Miami on Thursday.

The Rangers flew 3,000 miles after the game in order to begin the West Coast portion of their 11-game trip, with the first of three in Oakland.

“Our players were excited to get back off the break,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We’re going to be challenged, obviously, on this road trip travel-wise.”

Texas is scheduled to start right-hander Spencer Howard (1-1, 6.97 ERA) in the series opener. Both of his decisions this season have come against the A’s.

The Northern California native got the loss when he took over for Garrett Richards in the third inning and allowed the runs in a 2-0 loss at Oakland in April. Stephen Piscotty’s two-run homer did the damage.

The right-hander, who turns 26 on July 28, then got a measure of revenge when he went five innings as a starter, allowing just one earned run, in a 10-8 home win over the A’s.

Those are his only two career head-to-heads with the A’s, against whom he has gone 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA.

The A’s are expected to start lefty Cole Irvin (4-7, 3.21), who has pitched well in his last three starts. He has limited the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros (twice) to a total of four runs in 20 innings, going 2-1 in those games.

Another starting pitcher who could be on the trade market, Irvin will be facing the Rangers for the third time this season. He threw five innings of one-hit ball in a 2-0 home win in April, before not getting a decision in an 8-5 home loss in May, allowing two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.

The 28-year-old has gone 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers.

–Field Level Media