4/20 Keys to victory

One no-hitter and a badly mis-managed bullpen later, the Rangers returned home from a six game road trip with only one victory. With a quick five game homestand beginning tonight against the American League West, the Rangers have a perfect opportunity to show they're done fooling around and ready to make some serious noise.

Oakland Athletics (8-7) at Texas Rangers (6-9)

Pitching Matchups

Friday, 7:05 PM - Joe Blanton (1-0, 4.00) vs. Brandon McCarthy (1-2, 7.07)

Saturday, 7:05 PM - Joe Kennedy (0-1, 3.75) vs. Kameron Loe (0-0, 5.40)

Sunday, 2:05 PM - Chad Gaudin (1-0, 1.96) vs. Robinson Tejeda (2-1, 3.32)

Series Facts:
Mark Teixeira is hitting .278 with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs in 278 at-bats against the A‘s, the most home runs and RBIs against any team..Kenny Lofton is a lifetime .309 hitter against Oakland pitchng…Friday's starter Joe Blanton has a four game winning streak against the Rangers…Texas leads the all-time series against the A's 254-250

Keys To Victory

1. The Wash factor

During his time in the Bay Area, it's been well-documented what an integral part of the atmosphere Ron Washington was to the Oakland clubhouse. A's third baseman Eric Chavez, possibly the closest to Washington, even gave his former third base coach the fourth of his six Gold Glove Awards along with the inscription: "To Wash - not without you." But for Ron Washington, it's strictly business. "Of course I'll have a little emotion working," Washington had to say about his former team "I want to beat them bad, just like they want to beat me badly. It could be anybody, and I'd still want to beat them." Washington's knowledge of how the Athletics operate on the baseball field could prove to be a vital factor in this weekend: A 10-9 record against the A‘s last season resulted in the first winning record against their American League West foes since 2001. Texas was 27-50 against Oakland from 2002-05.

2. Take advantage of the pitching
The Rangers have the "luxury" of missing out on two of the stars of the Oakland starting rotation during their three game trip to Arlington. Rich Harden remains on the shelf with shoulder tightness and isn't expect to make another start until at least Tuesday, and Danny Haren's spot in the rotation has already passed when he took to the hill this past Thursday in Oakland. Of the three guys taking to the mound for the A's for this weekend series, Joe Blanton's 4.91 earned run average gives him the lowest against the Rangers. Saturday's game will feature Joe Kennedy and his 5.28 ERA against Texas hitters. Chad Gaudin, who takes the mound Sunday, has excellent numbers through three starts so far this season - but against the Rangers he carries with him an ERA over 7.00 in nine appearances. True, having to face those three guys is not the best of presents a team hitting a collective .221 could ask for. But given their career numbers against the Rangers' bats it presents a good opportunity to put up some nice offensive numbers.

3. Drive them in
While the team average in a whole may be the lowest in the league, going into last night's action the Rangers led all major league teams with a .323 batting average with runners in scoring position. And even more, with two outs and men in scoring position the Rangers as a team were hitting .348 - also the best in all of baseball. But during their recently ended road trip, run production during the first three innings of games fell off dramatically. Over the span of six games against Seattle and Chicago, only four runs were scored in the first three frames as opposed to 18 during the first homestand of the season against Boston and Tampa Bay. If the offensive numbers can perk up team-wide and the starting pitching is given the run support it so desperately needs, then hopefully this team can inflict some serious damage as it climbs back up the Western Division standings.

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