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With playoffs looming, Rangers look to capitalize against lowly A’s

Sep 6, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (5) and second baseman Marcus Semien (2) celebrate after Semien hits a home run against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers are in the midst of an epic free fall, having lost 15 of their past 19 games to tumble out of the postseason picture, at least for now.

The reeling Rangers (76-63) will look to get it together on Friday when they open a three-game series against the visiting Oakland Athletics (43-97) in Arlington, Texas.

The Rangers have been extremely generous of late, surrendering 14 walks, 16 homers, 50 hits and 39 runs overall in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros.

“Obviously, it was not a good series, wasn’t a lot we did well,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “We just didn’t execute pitches, left a lot up throughout the series and we paid for it. … They put it to us, and there’s no getting around that.”

And there’s no getting around where the Rangers reside in the standings. Texas, which long had been atop the American League West, now sits three games behind first-place Houston and a half-game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the third and final wild-card spot.

The last-place Athletics did the Rangers a favor by averting a series sweep with a 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday. Oakland has won four of its past six games overall but just three of 10 thus far in the season series versus Texas.

The Rangers, however, also enter this series with an injury concern. Right fielder Adolis Garcia exited Wednesday’s 12-3 loss to the Astros in the second inning after landing awkwardly on his right leg while trying to deny Michael Brantley of a home run.

Garcia, a two-time All-Star, is expected to have an MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury. He leads the American League with 100 RBIs and ranks third with 34 homers entering play on Thursday.

Speaking of homers, Marcus Semien belted two solo shots and had an RBI single among his four hits Wednesday.

Keeping Semien and company in check will be the initial responsibility of Oakland right-hander Paul Blackburn (4-4, 3.81 ERA), who is scheduled to start the series opener. Blackburn allowed one run on four hits in five innings of a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.

Blackburn, 29, is 0-3 with a 13.00 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) versus Texas.

Oakland’s Carlos Perez launched a two-run homer on Wednesday and Kevin Smith added a three-run blast after being summoned from Triple-A Las Vegas for the third time this season prior to the game.

“It feels great,” said Smith, who is batting just .204 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 35 games with the A’s this season.

“Especially when you come up, you want to try to make as early of a contribution that you can. Obviously, I haven’t as well as I’ve wanted to when I’m up here. You have to make some contributions or you’re going to find yourself back down.”

The Rangers have yet to announce their starting pitcher for the series opener.

–Field Level Media