MLB A’s, Rangers assessing rosters as series continues

Two teams with different approaches ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline will duel again Saturday night when the Texas Rangers visit the Oakland Athletics.

Cole Irvin and Ramon Laureano likely raised their respective trade value in the Athletics’ 5-4 win on Friday.

Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith, both acquired by the Rangers when they dealt star Joey Gallo to the New York Yankees last year, combined for two hits and an RBI in Friday’s loss.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward acknowledged coming out of the All-Star break that his team will attempt to navigate side-by-side paths in the second half. That means Texas will vie for an American League wild-card berth while giving young players such as like Duran and Smith a chance to lock down roles in 2023.

“Some of these guys can take that next step,” Woodward said of having unproven talent contribute to the pursuit of a postseason bid. “It’s going to be big for our offensive guys … these guys have to take a step forward in the second half to just prove that they belong there.”

Duran has started both games since the All-Star break and has gone 2-for-8. His two-out single in the ninth inning kept the Rangers’ hopes alive Friday.

After leading off an 8-0 win at Miami on Thursday, Smith came off the bench to deliver a run-scoring single in the ninth against the A’s.

If both start on Saturday, they will do so against Oakland right-hander James Kaprielian (1-5, 5.09 ERA), who has made two starts against the Rangers this season. The A’s won the games 6-5 at home on May 29 and 14-7 in 12 innings in Arlington on July 12, but he didn’t get a decision in either after allowing seven runs in 9 1/3 innings.

The 28-year-old has gone 1-2 with a 5.01 ERA in eight career starts against the Rangers.

Kaprielian figures to see Marcus Semien, the former A’s standout who has gone 2-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs in his career against his ex-teammate.

Semien had a chance to be a hero in the series opener, but he grounded out to end the game with the bases loaded.

Instead, he had to watch Oakland’s A.J. Puk celebrate his first career save.

“Coming off the mound, we had a good moment together,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said of a ceremony in which Puk was presented the game ball. “I’m really proud of A.J. this year — the progress he’s made and the incremental successes and how he’s built confidence.”

Ramon Laureano followed a two-hit outing in the second game of Thursday’s double-header against the Detroit Tigers with a homer against the Rangers.

Texas’ scheduled starter on Saturday is right-hander Matt Bush (2-1, 3.31). He is 1-1 lifetime against the A’s, with a 2.52 ERA in 26 appearances — all in relief.

–Field Level Media

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