But despite a bit of an injury scare with Matt Harrison his last time out, the left-hander has been reliable all season long. Texas will hand him the ball on Friday in the second game of the team's four-game set with the A's.
Harrison got his 10th win -- which was tied for the most in the American League going into Friday -- in his last start on June 24 against Colorado, but was pulled after five innings due to lower back tightness on his left side. He was taken out just as a precaution, though, and Harrison should be fully healthy to face Oakland.
And a healthy Harrison has been a boon for the Rangers this season, especially lately. The 26-year-old is 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last seven starts. Even when he hasn't had his best stuff, Harrison has been able to pitch well.
"I think that's a big indication, because I don't think, as a starter, when you take the ball 32 or 33 times, that you're going to take the ball and every time you go out there, you'll have your best stuff," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "The ones that are good figure it out. The ones that are not so good don't figure it out. You can put Harry in the category of being a good one because he figures it out."
Harrison will face an A's team looking to get back to its winning ways against Texas. Despite losing on Thursday in the series opener and being 10 games behind the A.L. West leaders entering Friday, Oakland has a 4-3 mark against the Rangers this season.
Count A's manager Bob Melvin among those who are impressed with his opponent, even though his club has had more success against Texas than most.
"This is a team, you know, you look up and down, it's probably the deepest team in the American League, if not in all of baseball," Melvin said. "So you know you always have your work cut out for them. From a psychology factor, you'd like to win some games against them."
A's: Griffin looks to follow up solid debut
Rookie A.J. Griffin will make the second start of his career on Friday. The right-hander was called up last Sunday to start for Brandon McCarthy and took a no-decision, allowing two runs in six innings against the Giants. With McCarthy continuing to deal with shoulder woes, it looks as if Griffin will remain in Oakland's rotation for the foreseeable future. Fellow rookie Derek Norris will likely get his second straight start behind the plate on Friday. The catcher had two hits on Thursday night, including his second home run.
Norris' first home run came in Griffin's first start last Sunday -- he hit a walk-off against San Francisco, ensuring that his former Triple-A teammate's debut would be a winning one.
Rangers: Holland hopes to return soon
Left-hander Derek Holland, one of Texas' three starters on the DL, had his first rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday, and Holland said he was pleased with his performance. Out since June 7 with left elbow fatigue, Holland will start again on Monday before the team decides whether to activate him.
"I'm not trying to rush anything," Holland said. "I'm doing my part to get myself ready. I want to be back here and finish strong to help the team get to where we want it to go. We're really happy that, despite what's going with injuries, everyone's been stepping up and doing their part."
As of Thursday, manager Ron Washington was yet to decide who would start Saturday's game against the A's, and the choice will likely come down to two rookies. It's right-hander Justin Grimm's turn in the rotation, but the team could also throw left-hander Martin Perez, who made his Major League debut on Wednesday in relief.
The Rangers stole four bases on Thursday night, moving them ahead of the A's for the top spot in the AL. Texas now has 63 steals, while Oakland has 62 after swiping one bag on Thursday.
After going 3-for-4 with two RBIs on Thursday, A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is now hitting .625 (10-for-16) against the Rangers this season.
A's outfielder Coco Crisp's third-inning single on Thursday ended a streak that saw Oakland hit home runs with the team's five previous hits, dating back to Wednesday. The A's last had a similar streak in September of 2001.