The Texas Rangers have their brooms ready as they look to finish off a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics this evening at the Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers picked up their fifth win in a row on Saturday as they used a five-run fifth inning and received 5 1/3 strong innings from Martin Perez in his major league debut on their way to a 7-2 victory over the A's. Josh Hamilton went 2-for-4, homered, and drove in four runs while Adrian Beltre hit a solo shot. Ian Kinsler also collected two RBI in the victory.
Texas became the first team to win 50 games with the victory. No team has won 50 games as quick since the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009. The Rangers' win was their 17th in their last 21 games.
Hamilton has gone 5-for-10 with six RBI and three walks in the series. Texas is one of the toughest teams in baseball offensively and has an MLB-leading team batting average of .284. The Rangers' ability to string together hits leads to game-breaking innings such as Saturday's fifth.
"We don't expect to have huge innings, but we expect to score and to put pressure on the other team consistently throughout the game," Kinsler said. "Once or twice a game, that can possibly turn into a big inning."
While there was some uncertainty as to how Perez would perform in his major league debut on Saturday, Yu Darvish has built high expectations every time he takes the rubber. Darvish has picked up a winning decision in three straight outings with 29 strikeouts and a 3.13 ERA during that time. Darvish is 10-4 with a 3.57 ERA so far in his rookie campaign. He is an impressive 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA at home and 1-1 in two starts against the A's.
The Athletics will counter with left-hander Travis Blackley as they try to avoid the sweep. Blackley pitched seven innings and held Seattle to two runs on five hits his last time out. It was the third straight start the southpaw surrendered two earned runs or less.
"With the injuries right now, he's the guy, to an extent, we're kind of leaning on to give us performances like that," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "He certainly gave us a chance to win. We just didn't do anything early on."
Oakland hurt itself on Saturday as it had three fielding errors in the loss. The Rangers managed to turn the mistakes into their own opportunities.
"We've been taking advantage of those kinds of things," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Tonight was a situation where they made a couple of errors there and we made them pay for it."
Oakland left seven batters on base and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Saturday while Texas went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Texas is 11-2 in its last 13 home games versus the A's.