Something will have to give when right-handers Mike Foltynewicz of the visiting Texas Rangers and Chris Bassitt of the Oakland Athletics put unbeaten 2021 records against Friday night’s opponent on the line in the opener of a three-game series.
The matchup of American League rivals occurs two days after the A’s snatched one of their former sluggers, Khris Davis, from the scrap heap; the Rangers had released him in June.
Davis spent five seasons with the A’s, hitting 158 homers, before getting dealt to Texas last offseason for Elvis Andrus.
“This is the place that probably resonates with him the most,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Davis, who hit just .157 in 22 games with the Rangers this season. “He’s had his best times here; he was well loved by the fan base here. A lot of things played into his success here.
“This is a special place for him, and I know that this is a place he wanted to come back to. Hopefully we see him at some point.”
While he tries to work his way back into shape at the A’s spring-training site in Arizona, Davis will watch from afar as his two most recent teams meet for the 11th time this season. Davis did not play in any of those games, which were split 5-5.
Three of Oakland’s five wins and two of Texas’ five came with Friday’s starting pitchers on the mound. Until now, they have managed to avoid each other this season.
Bassitt (11-3, 3.28 ERA) pitched nearly identical games in beating the Rangers three times in June and July. He went seven innings in each, giving up no more than five hits or one run in any.
The hat trick improved his career record against Texas to 5-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 12 games, including eight starts.
Bassitt won’t have to worry about two big bats he faced earlier as the Rangers dealt Joey Gallo to the New York Yankees last week and sent Eli White (elbow) to the injured list.
White was scratched from the lineup Thursday when the Rangers completed a home series with a 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Texas lost the last three in the four-game set.
Foltynewicz (2-10, 6.00) hasn’t been quite as overpowering against Oakland as Bassitt has been versus Texas, but he’s nonetheless recorded one win and two no-decisions in his three starts against the A’s this season. He has allowed no more than three runs or six hits in any — going six, 6 1/3 and seven innings.
He’s 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in five lifetime games against the A’s, including four starts.
He’ll be trying to join a short list of just five pitchers who have beaten the A’s twice this season.
Both starters are coming off solid efforts. Bassitt shut out the Angels on six hits over seven innings in a 2-0 road win last Friday, while Foltynewicz limited Seattle to two runs and three hits through five innings in a win Sunday.
While several newcomers are vying for spots created when the Rangers dealt three pitchers at the deadline last week, Texas manager Chris Woodward warned that all his holdovers — including Foltynewicz — will be on short leashes moving forward.
“I think as each of these starts go … we just may switch a few things up,” he said this week. “We may move things around, or we may not. It’s just that we’re going to play it day by day.”
–Field Level Media