ATHLETICS (32-33) AT RANGERS (34-29)
3:05 p.m. ET; FSSW, NBCSCA, MLB.TV
Oakland right-hander Frankie Montas will seek to extend his streak of unbeaten starts to seven on Sunday afternoon when the Athletics and Texas Rangers meet in the series finale in Arlington, Texas.
Montas (7-2, 2.83 ERA) will have to go a long way to match the effort of Rangers right-hander Adrian Sampson on Saturday night, in the nightcap of Texas’ 10-5, 3-1 doubleheader sweep of the A’s. Sampson threw the first complete game of his career, limiting the A’s to four hits.
Montas has been a pleasant surprise for the A’s this season, already having surpassed the win total of his first three big-league seasons (six).
He’s gone 3-0 in his last six starts, most recently having beaten the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 with six innings of four-hit ball on Tuesday. All three wins during Montas’ personal unbeaten streak have come on the road.
According to the emerging 26-year-old, a key number in Tuesday’s win was his walk total: one. That came on the heels of a five-walk outing when he faced the Angels a week earlier.
“I think they were expecting me to be like last time when I wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes,” Montas noted to reporters after the win. “They realized tonight was different and started swinging more.”
Montas didn’t have one of his better performances in an earlier meeting with the Rangers, but came away a winner nonetheless. He was roughed up for nine hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings on April 23 vs. Texas, a game the A’s won 11-5.
He’s 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in five games, including two starts, against the Rangers in his career.
One thing Montas would like to avoid Sunday is helping Shin-Soo Choo pad a club record he set Saturday when hit by a Chris Bassitt pitch in the fifth inning of the second game of the doubleheader.
It was Choo’s 58th HBP as a Ranger, topping Ian Kinsler’s record.
Choo had an interesting reaction earlier in the week after injuring his left hand when hit for the 57th time Wednesday against Baltimore.
“I don’t like being tied,” he assured reporters. “I like being first.”
Choo had to sit out two straight games, including the series opener against the A’s, as a result of a bruised hand suffered in Wednesday’s record-tying plate appearance. But he was back for both games Saturday, walking twice and scoring two runs in the opener, before contributing to a two-run, go-ahead fifth inning in the nightcap with his plunking.
Meanwhile, Rangers left-hander Drew Smyly (1-4, 7.93) is in desperate need of finding a new direction.
The 29-year-old left-hander has been batting practice for his last two opponents, lasting a total of just 8 1/3 innings while allowing 14 runs and 16 hits.
Like Montas, Smyly will be pitching on four days’ rest as he attempts to give the Rangers a 3-1 series win. He was last seen in a 12-11 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday.
The veteran has faced the A’s eight times in his career, five times as a starter, going 1-2 with a 5.83 ERA.
–Field Level Media