Nathan Eovaldi will look to regain his form as the reeling Texas Rangers bid to apply the brakes on their pronounced skid Saturday night against the Oakland Athletics in Arlington, Texas.
Eovaldi (11-4, 2.95 ERA) hardly looked like himself on Tuesday while making his first start since July 18. The All-Star right-hander struggled mightily in his return from a stint on the injured list caused by a right forearm strain.
Eovaldi allowed four runs on five hits — including two homers — in 1 1/3 innings during a 14-1 shellacking by the Houston Astros.
“It was good to see him out there, but it’s obvious that he was missing spots out there and that’s unlike him,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “But you miss that much time — this game’s not that easy.”
Eovaldi made it look easy in his latest encounter against Oakland.
He struck out a career-best 12 batters and scattered three hits and one walk over 8 2/3 innings en route to a 4-0 road victory on May 11. Eovaldi is 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 10 career appearances (all starts) against the Athletics.
Texas (76-64) is in dire need of a strong performance from Eovaldi.
The Rangers have dropped four in a row and 16 of their past 20 games to fall three games in back of the first-place Astros (80-62) in the American League West. Texas also is 1 1/2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays (78-63) for the third and final AL wild-card spot.
“The losses, these are getting tough,” Bochy said. “You keep fighting, that’s the only thing we can do. And that’s what we’ll do.”
Corey Seager hit a two-run homer in Texas’ 6-3 setback to the A’s during the series opener on Friday. The long ball was Seager’s 29th of the season and 16th in his past 34 games.
Oakland’s Shea Langeliers also went deep on Friday, launching a tiebreaking, two-run shot in the sixth inning to lift the A’s (44-97) to their second straight win and fifth in seven games.
Succeeding in Texas is meaningful to Langeliers, who attended Keller High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and played collegiately at Baylor.
“Lot of family, lot of friends,” he told NBC Sports California after the game. “It’s always fun coming back to Texas, coming back home to play baseball in front of all the people I love, so I always have a blast here and try to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Oakland’s Esteury Ruiz, 24, had a solo homer and an RBI single on Friday to improve to 4-for-10 during his three-game hitting streak. Teammate Zack Gelof, 23, recorded his fifth multi-hit performance of his past seven games.
“I’ve always been a guy who got my confidence through hard work and earning it,” Gelof said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. “I have belief in myself and the player I am. In a game of so much failure, I think you need that.”
The Athletics did not announce their starting pitcher for Saturday’s game.
–Field Level Media