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Texas Rangers (92-63) at Oakland Athletics (66-88)
Sunday, September 25 - 4:05 PM EST
Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
The Texas Rangers are down to that carefree part of the season where the biggest worry is balancing adequate rest with a desire to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Rangers, who clinched the American League West on Friday, sat most of the starters on Saturday and will give the rest a day off Sunday when they try to wrap up the road portion of the regular season with a three-game sweep of the host Oakland Athletics.
Texas had only Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara among the regular starters in the lineup on Saturday and still managed to earn a 5-0 win - its second straight shutout. The Rangers (92-63), who own the best record in the AL, are 50-25 at home and will spend the final week of the season trying to hold off the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox for the AL's top record. The Athletics took two of three at Texas last weekend but missed out on further chances to play spoiler by dropping three straight to the wild-card hopeful Houston Astros and going down weakly in the first two against the Rangers this weekend. Last-place Oakland is 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the series and has been held to two or fewer runs in four of the last five games.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Southwest (Texas), CSN California (Oakland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers RH Colby Lewis (6-3, 3.40 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Jharel Cotton (1-0, 1.50)
Lewis is trying to find his control as he tunes up for the playoffs and issued five walks while suffering a loss against Oakland last Sunday. The California native failed to complete six innings in any of his last three starts and yielded five home runs in that span. That stretch bridged almost three months on the disabled list and began after Lewis scattered two hits in a complete-game win at the Athletics on June 16.
Cotton is trying to earn himself a spot in in Oakland's future plans and allowed one earned run in each of his first three major-league starts. The 24-year-old struck out a season-high six in as many innings against Houston on Monday but did not factor in the decision despite allowing one run and two hits. Cotton is seeing the Rangers for the first time and has allowed a total of four hits in 12 1/3 innings at home.
1. Rangers LHP Derek Holland will move to the bullpen and could fill that role in the playoffs.
2. Oakland RHP Sonny Gray (forearm strain) threw a simulated game on Saturday and is hopeful of getting another start in before the end of the season.
3. Texas OF Shin-Soo Choo (broken forearm) will head to instructional league in Arizona on Monday and could be back before the end of the week.
PREDICTION: Athletics 6, Rangers 3