© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
PrintPrint

09/24/10 8:14 PM ET

Rangers can clinch AL West with win over A's

It's very simple for the Texas Rangers on Saturday. If they beat Oakland, they clinch the American League West. If they lose, the A's stay alive in the race for at least one more day.

The task in front of young Texas left-hander Derek Holland figures to be a great challenge.

Holland must break out of the inconsistency that's hindered his progress in an injury-plagued year and try to win on the road so he can join his teammates in popping champagne corks in the visiting clubhouse at Oakland Alameda Coliseum.

He'll have to do better than he did last time out.

In that outing, on Monday in Anaheim, Holland took a 7-4 loss to the Angels after giving up four runs on six hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. He looked sharp for two innings, was saved by a home run-saving catch by center fielder Julio Borbon in the third and gave up three runs before exiting with two outs in the fourth.

"The first two innings, I felt really good," Holland said. "Everything worked perfectly. Then, my offspeed stuff kind of shut down and it really hurt me. It was easy for them to sit back and go after my fastball."

Holland, going back to last season, was 5-6 with a 4.52 ERA in his first 14 starts in the Major Leagues. Since then, he is 4-10 with a 7.25 ERA in his last 16 starts. He won his first two starts in May before ending up on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

Over his last seven Major League starts, he is 1-4 with a 5.64 ERA as he continues to try to find command and confidence in his three-pitch repertoire.

"He just didn't have the command he's capable of having," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after his last outing. "The thing that got him in trouble is he couldn't get that third out. If he gets that third out, he could have gone much deeper in the game."

The A's will do their best to continue Holland's struggles on Saturday in what could be a last-ditch effort to keep contention alive.

They'll turn to their own talented young left-hander, Gio Gonzalez, who has quietly put together a breakout season. A victory on Saturday would be Gonzalez's 15th of the season, extending his career-high total.

The southpaw has allowed one run or fewer in 10 of his last 17 starts and is 8-4 with a 2.67 ERA and .221 opponents batting average over that span.

Rangers: Feliz one save from history
Closer Neftali Feliz needs one more save to reach 38 for the season and set a Major League record for saves by a rookie. He can eclipse the mark of 37 that he shares with Kazuhiro Sasaki, who accomplished the feat for the Seattle Mariners in 2000. Feliz has pitched 12 scoreless innings in his last 12 games. ... Holland is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in five career games against Oakland, including a 1-1 record and 2.61 ERA in two starts.

A's: Success has been day and night
One thing in the A's favor for Saturday might be the fact that they've been a lot better during the day than they've been at night this year. The A's have a 34-18 record during the day, compared to a 43-58 mark at night. The day record is tied with Colorado for the best in the Majors and the night record is fourth-worst in the AL. ... Gonzalez is 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts) against Texas and is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts against the Rangers this year.

Worth noting
Texas designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero was hitless in his previous 10 at-bats entering Friday night's win over the A's, in which he went 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and four RBIs. He is batting .371 (26-for-70) over his last 17 games and has hit safely in 15 of his last 18 games overall with eight multihit games. ... The A's have used the disabled list 23 times, which is second-most in Oakland history behind 23 in 2008. They've used the DL 87 times since the start of the 2007 season. The only team that has used the DL more over that span is Texas (98).

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


MLB.com