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08/27/10 12:32 AM ET

A's, Rangers square off in divisional battle

The A's and Rangers won't seem to be playing for the American League West division title when they hook up for a three-game series that begins on Friday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Texas, after all, has a comfortable 8 1/2-game lead over Oakland and looks like it's on late-August cruise control toward a postseason berth. Then again, an Oakland sweep would trim that deficit to 5 1/2 games, and, well, stranger things have happened -- especially with more than a month remaining on the 2010 slate.

A's manager Bob Geren is well aware of this and knows exactly the opponent his team will have to deal with.

"They're playing well," Geren said. "We always play them tough. It will be a big series for us to go in there and try to gain some ground. All of our pitchers are going so well -- and we have our three lefties going. They've all been throwing the ball very well lately.

"[But] they're a solid team. They have no major weaknesses. Their record indicates that."

On the other side of the diamond, Rangers manager Ron Washington realizes how important a good showing by his ballclub would be. If Texas sweeps, the lead over Oakland would grow to double digits -- at 11 1/2. Still, Washington said it's way too early to start adding up numbers or thinking that his team can finish off the A's this weekend.

"I don't know if you can deliver a knockout punch, but we can put some distance between us," Washington said. "You don't deliver a knockout blow until they put an X by your name. Once again, we just want to win the series."

A's: Anderson and mates rolling
When asked how Friday starter Brett Anderson stacks up against the Rangers, Geren quickly said, "Brett matches up well against anybody." Anderson is 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA against the Rangers in his career. He has struck out 22 batters in 22 1/3 innings vs. Texas. ... As for the rest of the A's young starters, Geren is doubly impressed. "It's a pleasure to watch them," Geren said. "They're very consistent with their work and their practice sessions. Their consistency has carried out onto the mound. It's a good feeling -- knowing they're going to get you deep into games and give you a chance to win every single night."

Rangers: Hunter a rare find
In his last start, Friday starter Tommy Hunter beat the Orioles -- holding them to three runs in eight innings. It was his second-longest outing in 15 starts this season. Curiously, it marked the first time in over four years for any pitcher to toss at least eight innings without a walk or strikeout -- and the first time a Ranger has done it since Jon Matlack didn't walk or strike out a batter in a nine-inning victory over the Blue Jays on May 11, 1979. ... Hunter is 6-0 with a 3.10 ERA in eight starts at home this year.

Worth noting
The Oakland A's reinstated outfielder Matt Watson from the 15-day disabled list and outrighted him to Triple-A Sacramento. Watson was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 9 retroactive to Aug. 8 with kidney stones. ... Washington is approaching elite company in terms of wins as a Rangers manager. With seven more wins, Washington will pass Buck Showalter for third place on the club's all-time list at 320, where he would trail only long-time skipper Bobby Valentine and Rangers Hall of Famer Johnny Oates.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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