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Oakland Travels to Texas for AL West Showdown

The A's and Rangers begin an important four-game series on Monday.

The A’s and Rangers begin an important four-game series on Monday.

The Oakland Athletics visit the Texas Rangers on Monday for the first of four games between the AL West rivals this week.

Oakland currently holds a three-game lead over Texas at the top of the division, a lead the Rangers will look to cut into at the very least, if not to erase completely.

First pitch on Monday is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

Weekend Recap

Both teams will enter Monday’s series opener looking to make amends for what proved to be a poor weekend at the top of the division.

A 7-2 loss on Sunday saw the Toronto Blue Jays sweep the Rangers in a four-game set that began on Thursday. Ron Washington’s side had no answer for the Jays, scoring just four runs across the four games, compared to Toronto’s 24.

The Rangers have now lost six games in a row, and have not won a series in four attempts.

After completing a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees, Oakland was tripped up by the visiting Seattle Mariners this weekend.

Following Wednesday’s epic 18-inning thriller against the Yankees, the A’s lost two straight to the Mariners, before picking up a 10-2 victory on Sunday. While the A’s offense stunk in the first two games, it was the locker rooms that stunk on Sunday; sewerage issues forced players from both teams to shower in the Oakland Raiders’ locker room at O.co Coliseum.

Importantly, the win secured a cushion of an additional game at the top of the AL West for the A’s.

Bartolo Colon picked up the win on Sunday, stretching the A's lead at the top of the AL West to three games.

Bartolo Colon picked up the win on Sunday, stretching the A’s lead at the top of the AL West to three games.

Tussle at the Top

On May 15, Texas held a seven-game lead over the Athletics – who were two games below .500 – at the top of the division.

Since that date, the Rangers have hit a mini-skid, going 13-17 (.433) while the A’s are flying, compiling a 22-7 (.759) record. That discrepancy has led to a 10-game turnaround at the top of the division.

Oakland of course made history last season as Bob Melvin’s side went from 13 games down on June 30 to winning the division on the final day of the season. While this year’s surge hasn’t quite been that impressive, it certainly shows that the Athletics are a threat to take the AL West once again this year.

For the Rangers, halting Oakland’s momentum has to be top of the agenda right now.  Realistically, the team needs to split the four-game series or better. Failure to do so, and trailing by six or seven games, could crush the team psyche.

Season Head-to-Head

Oakland and Texas have met six times this season, with 13 still to play (including this week’s four-game series).

The two sides have split those six games – three in Texas, three in Oakland – three apiece. Intriguingly, the road team has had the greater success, with four games going to the visiting side.

Oakland secured a 9-2 victory on May 20 when the teams first met at Rangers Ballpark as well as a 1-0 win the following day. The Rangers prevented the sweep with a 3-1 win to close out the series.

Rookie Nick Tepesch will take the mound for Texas on Monday night.

Rookie Nick Tepesch will take the mound for Texas on Monday night.

Starting Pitchers

Texas will send Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.30 ERA) to the mound on Monday night. The 24-year-old rookie has lost his last three decisions, including during his last outing on June 12 against the Cleveland Indians. In that game, the right-hander gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings.

Tepesch’s last win came on May 12 against the Houston Astros.

Dan Straily (4-2, 4.45 ERA) will toe the rubber for the A’s. Straily picked up a win against the Yankees last time out (June 12), yielding just two runs on three hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Straily is 1-1 against the Rangers this season. He recorded a loss on May 15, giving up five runs on four hits, before picking up a win six days later, pitching seven innings of shutout ball. He allowed just two hits in the game.

Game Day Betting Options

Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers odds for 6/17/13 are available now.

Playing at home, Texas (-110) opened ahead of Oakland (+100) on the moneyline but bettors can expect to find the Rangers anywhere between -110 and -121.

Be sure to check the BettingSports.com MLB odds page to find the best value bets on all of Monday’s games.

The over under opened at 10 but most sportsbooks have seen that number slip to 9 1/2.

Oakland (37-34-0) has marginally favored the over this season, while Texas (26-42-3) has heavily favored the under. The total has gone under in the Rangers’ last seven games, and nine of 10. Seven of the last nine A’s games have also ended with the total going under.

In the six previous meetings between the clubs this season, the total has gone under four times and over twice.

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