The Oakland Athletics held a four-game lead in the AL West in early August, but now are on the verge of being eliminated from division contention.
Still leading the wild-card race, the A's try to end Derek Holland's recent success and keep the Texas Rangers from matching their season high with a fifth consecutive victory Wednesday night.With a loss Wednesday and a win by the first-place Los Angeles Angels, Oakland (83-67) would be left with the wild card as its only route to the postseason. A loser in 23 of 34, the A's hold a one-game lead over Kansas City and are two ahead of Seattle in that race.Oakland had won seven of the previous nine from major league-worst Texas (58-92) before Scott Kazmir allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings and the A's made two more errors during a 6-3 loss Tuesday."I feel like that was a game that just doesn't happen in September in a race to make the playoffs," said Kazmir, who also threw two wild pitches. "You just don't play like that. ... To be honest, I've never seen anything like that before at a major league level."Among the major league leaders with 103 errors, the A's have committed at least one in six straight contests.Josh Donaldson tried to make up for things with two hits, but Oakland was held to fewer than four runs for the fifth time in six games.Donaldson is 6 for 14 with two homers and two doubles against Holland (1-0, 0.86 ERA), who has allowed two runs and struck out 17 without a walk over 21 innings in three starts since making his season debut Sept. 2 following offseason knee surgery.His streak of those 21 innings without a walk is eight shy of the club record set by Gaylord Perry in 1977."A walk is a free base," Holland said after he gave up a run in seven innings while not factoring in the decision of a 2-1 win over Atlanta on Friday."I'm not giving my teammates a chance to make plays when I do that. It would be nice to keep up this no walks going, but I can't get caught up in it."The left-hander is 3-2 with a 3.26 ERA in eight career starts at Oakland.Facing Texas for the first time, Jeff Samardzija (4-5, 3.41) has allowed more than three runs four times in 13 starts since being acquired by Oakland on July 4. However, three have come at home, including the last two where he's yielded 11 and four homers over 10 2/3 innings in a pair of losses.The right-hander gave up four of those runs and struck out nine over seven innings in a 4-3 loss to Houston on Sept. 5. Samardzija, however, followed by allowing six hits over seven scoreless innings while not factoring in the decision of a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox last Wednesday."It's always a tough game, no matter who you're facing," Samardzija told MLB's official website. "You always have to be at your best."He'll try to contain Adrian Beltre, who is 6 for 16 with three doubles at Oakland this season.
J.P. Arencibia (TEX): 2nd go-ahead HR in the 9th inning or later this season (he had 2 in his career entering this season)
Jeff Samardzija has now made 5 starts this season in which he's allowed no runs. His team is 0-5 in those 5 games. According to Elias, this is the first time a starting pitcher has made as many as 5 starts without allowing a run and his team hasn't won any of those games.