Series: Game 2 of 3

Oakland leads 2-0 (as of 10/2)

Game 1: Monday, October 1
Game 2: Tuesday, October 2
Game 3: Wednesday, October 3

Rangers 1

(93-68, 43-37 away)

Athletics 3

(93-68, 49-31 home)

    10:05 PM ET, October 2, 2012 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

    123456789 R H E
    TEX 001000000 1 5 2
    OAK 00002100 - 3 6 2

    W: T. Blackley (6-4)

    L: M. Harrison (18-11)

    S: G. Balfour (24)

    Rangers-Athletics Preview


    The Oakland Athletics are headed to the postseason for the first time in six years. Now they can focus on a bigger prize.

    The Athletics can move into a first-place tie in the AL West with the visiting Texas Rangers when this three-game set continues Tuesday night.

    Oakland (92-68) entered this series with a magic number of one to reach the playoffs while Texas (93-67) needed one victory to earn its third straight West title.

    The Athletics won 4-3 on Monday to clinch at least a wild-card spot, pulling within one game of the Rangers for the division lead. Oakland must sweep this series to win the West.

    "Absolutely amazing," said Athletics manager Bob Melvin during a raucous clubhouse celebration. "We don't get this done unless everybody believes in everybody and everybody plays unselfishly."

    The A's are tied with Baltimore for the wild-card spots. They will clinch home-field advantage for a potential wild-card contest with a victory Tuesday along with a loss by the Orioles in Tampa Bay.

    The Rangers have dropped seven of 11. They are tied with East-leading New York in the race for home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.

    "I'm not sending any message. My team knows what needs to be done," manager Ron Washington said.

    Tuesday's pitching matchup seems to favor the Rangers. It will be a rematch of last Thursday's meeting between left-handers Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA) of Texas and Travis Blackley (5-4, 4.00) for Oakland.

    Harrison got credit for a 9-7 victory last week by allowing four runs over six innings. He improved to 2-0 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts versus the A's this year and 6-1 with a 3.33 ERA in nine career matchups.

    "It was a battle for me all day," Harrison said. "All credit goes to the offense. They scored nine runs, kept us on top of the game."

    Harrison can become the Rangers' first 19-game winner since Rick Helling won 20 in 1998.

    Blackley, meanwhile, turned in the shortest start of his career. He lasted only one inning, allowing five runs and five hits with a wild pitch.

    "I'm just not getting it down," said Blackley, who has failed to get past the second inning in consecutive starts. "I'm not throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes and falling behind."

    Ian Kinsler is 4 for 10 with two doubles and a homer off Blackley and Nelson Cruz is 4 for 7.

    Harrison has had trouble with Coco Crisp, who is 7 for 18 against him.

    Crisp continues to be clutch for the A's with a go-ahead RBI double in the fifth inning Monday.

    The veteran returned Friday after missing nine starts with an infection in both eyes. Crisp is 9 for 17 with seven runs, three doubles, three stolen bases and two RBIs in four games since coming back.

    Josh Hamilton went 0 for 4 for Texas, dropping to 5 for 28 with 11 strikeouts at Oakland this year. He fell one homer behind Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, who hit his 44th Monday to take over the major league lead.

    Texas slugger Mike Napoli homered for the third time in his last two games and fourth time in his last five.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Gameday Matchup

    Current StreakL3W6
    Last 103-78-2

    Pitching Matchup

    M. Harrison
    18-11, 3.29 ERA

    Last Game:
    10/2 at OAK
    6.0 IP, 3 ER
    Dec = Loss
    T. Blackley
    6-4, 4.10 ERA

    Last Game:
    10/2 at OAK
    6.0 IP, 1 ER
    Dec = Win

    Gameday Lineups

    1. I. Kinsler, 2B C. Crisp, CF
    2. E. Andrus, SS S. Drew, SS
    3. J. Hamilton, CF Y. Cespedes, LF
    4. A. Beltre, DH J. Gomes, DH
    5. N. Cruz, RF J. Reddick, RF
    6. M. Young, 3B J. Donaldson, 3B
    7. M. Napoli, C B. Moss, 1B
    8. G. Soto, C D. Norris, C
    9. C. Gentry, CF A. Rosales, 2B

    Research Notes

    The A's entered this season having failed to record a winning season in each of the previous five years and it looked like they were well on their way to a sixth. Oakland was nine games under .500 through games of June 10th - 25th in the MLB standings (12th in AL), and 8.5 games back of the second AL Wild Card. The A's have gone 66-33 since and have a 92-68 record on the year. Here's a look at a few other teams that had unexpected turnarounds. 2007 Rockies The Rockies entered 2007 having finished below .500 in each of their previous six seasons. Colorado was four games under .500 on July 1st and just one game above .500 through August 23rd. But the Rockies would catch fire late - winning 13 of their final 14 games to force a 163rd game with the Padres for the NL Wild Card. Colorado won that game 9-8 in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 2-run deficit by scoring three runs in the bottom of the 13th inning. The Rockies then defeated the Phillies in the NLDS and Diamondbacks in the NLCS before falling to the Red Sox in the World Series, 4 games to none. 2003 Marlins Expectations weren't high for the 2003 Marlins as they had failed to finish above .500 in each of their five previous seasons. Florida started slow, winning just 19 of its first 48 games and was under .500 as late as June 29th. But the Marlins turned it around the rest of the way out en route to a 91-71 finish and a Wild Card berth. After wins over the Giants (NLDS) and Cubs (NLCS), Florida would capture its second World Series title with a 4-2 series win against the Yankees. 1991 Braves The 1991 Braves were coming off a 65-97 campaign and hadn't registered a winning season in any of the previous seven years. They sat one game under .500 at the All-Star Break and then something clicked. Atlanta went 55-28 during the second half of the season and totaled 94 wins for the year. The Braves carried their momentum into the NLCS - defeating the Pirates in seven games before falling in a heartbreaker to the Twins in the World Series in seven games. 1969 Mets The Mets inaugural season was in 1962 - and they didn't get off to a good start as they lost 100+ games in five of their first seven seasons while failing to register a winning season in any of those years. It looked like they might be on their way to their eighth as they entered the month of June just 21-23. The Mets didn't just turn things around, they dominated the rest of the way out en route to finishing 100-62. New York swept the Braves 3-0 in the NLCS before defeating the Orioles in five games to win its first World Series. 1914 Boston Braves The Boston Braves franchise entered the 1914 season coming off 11 consecutive losing seasons under a myriad of names (Rustlers, Doves, Beaneaters). They were as many as 15 games below .500 in the month of June, but rallied to finish 94-59, comfortably earning the NL spot in the World Series by 10 games over the New York Giants. The Braves would go on to sweep the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, 4 games to none.
    Nelson Cruz is batting .316 against left-handed pitching through Sunday this season and only .245 against right-handed pitching. He faces Oakland lefty Travis Blackley on Tuesday night, against whom he is 4-for-7 with two doubles in his career.

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