Right-hander Chris Bassitt will look to strengthen his potential All-Star Game credentials when he pursues a ninth straight win Wednesday night as the Oakland Athletics host the Texas Rangers on the second night of a three-game series.
Home runs dominated the series opener, with each team hitting three in a 5-4 Rangers win.
Joey Gallo had two homers and Nick Solak a two-run shot for the Rangers, who will send left-hander Kolby Allard (2-3, 3.33 ERA) in search of the club’s fifth straight win.
Bassitt (8-2, 3.25) hasn’t lost since April 6, which was Oakland’s sixth game of the season. The team’s opening-day starter, he went 0-2 during the A’s 0-6 start.
But the 32-year-old hasn’t lost in 14 starts since, and he enters Wednesday’s outing seeking to extend a personal-best run of victories after entering the season never having won more than three straight in a year.
The eighth consecutive win came last Thursday at Texas, when he allowed just one run and five hits in seven innings in a 5-1 Oakland win.
He got the better of Gallo that time, striking him out twice on an 0-for-4 night.
Gallo since has gone 6-for-13 with five home runs and nine RBIs. The lefty slugger’s 386-foot blast to left field was particularly impressive to A’s manager Bob Melvin on Tuesday.
“He went the opposite way,” the veteran manager gushed. “Not too many left-handers are going to go out there on a cool night. But he did.”
Rangers manager Chris Woodward has a theory as to why six home runs flew out of Oakland’s pitcher-friendly ballpark in the series opener.
Could it be Major League Baseball’s new rules preventing pitchers from getting help gripping the ball?
“I don’t think that’s a reach at all,” he said. “I think it’s a real thing. I figured offense would go up, which it has. It just shows you how good stuff had become.
“I’m not saying that was the reason. Maybe it’s actually the lack of anything that’s causing pitchers to drop some (velocity) or drop some spin. It’s just harder to hold onto the baseball.”
Even when pitchers were getting a better grip, Gallo did his share of damage against Bassitt in his career, going 4-for-8 with a double, two homers, three RBIs and two walks.
Bassitt is 3-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 10 career games, including six starts, against Texas.
Eli White and Jose Trevino had two hits apiece in the loss to Bassitt last Thursday.
The Bassitt-Allard matchup is a repeat of that game, when the Rangers’ 23-year-old was charged with four runs on eight hits in six innings. He served up a home run to Jed Lowrie in the loss.
The Southern California native hasn’t had much success against the A’s in his career, going 0-3 with an 8.76 ERA in three starts. He has never pitched in Oakland.
Allard was done in mostly by a three-run first inning in last week’s 5-1 Rangers’ loss. Lowrie had an RBI single and Ramon Laureano a run-scoring double in the early uprising.
–Field Level Media