The Texas Rangers have won 6 out of their last 7 games and are 1 game behind the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd best record in the American League. Tonight they will look for another win as they meet the Oakland A's in Oakland, California.

The Texas Rangers (88-65) look to keep dominating the American League West Division as they face the Oakland Athletics (69-84) who are playing out the string. 

MLB odds boards opened with the Rangers as a favorite at -135 and the total is 8.

Although chances seem remote, the Los Angeles Angels are 5 games behind the Rangers with 9 games to go and the Rangers play the Angels in the final series of the season at Anaheim. Texas needs to keep winning because a Los Angeles sweep could mean a 3 game difference in their current 5 game lead. The Rangers need to defeat a weaker team like the Athletics.

Pitching matchup

Derek Holland

Texas has the advantage in the pitching matchup as they send left hander Derek Holland to the mound. Holland has had a successful season at 14-5 with a 4.02 ERA. In his last outing against the Athletics, he pitched a 4 hitter in a complete game shutout victory. In Holland's last 4 starts, he's pitched 27 1/3 innings while allowing 5 earned runs and going 2-0.

The Athletics send Rich Harden to the mound. Harden hasn't won a game in his last 4 starts. He's a career 5-3 against Texas with a 4.78 ERA. He pitched poorly in his last outing against Texas, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits in 4 innings.

Harden has had an above average career, but at this point, he's considered average at best. He'll have a tough time against a Rangers team that has more motivation to win this game.

Athletics killer

Third baseman Adrian Beltre has been on fire as of late. He also had huge success against the Athletics in their last series (3 games) that started on September 9th. In that series, Beltre was 9 for 15 with 4 runs, 2 doubles, 3 HR and 7 RBI, Beltre's bat has had a lot of pop to it lately. He's hit a home run in 6 out of his last 8 games. In his last 10 games, he's 17 for 42 with 9 runs, 7 HR and 13 RBI. He's playing as well a s a player can play. Although he's only a career 2 for 16 off of starter Rich Harden, look for Beltre to be a factor in this game.
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The King

The Texas Rangers have their own "Elvis" that has performed in front over 1 million people this year and his name is Elvis Andrus. Andrus has been very consistent as of late. He's currently riding a 12 game hitting streak. Since August 26th, Andrus is 30 for 83 with 21 runs, 2 HR and 13 RBI. Andrus's production level has increased at a pivotal time for the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers.

Key Note:

Ian Kinsler is 5 for 8 off of Rich Harden, Josh Hamilton is 4 for 8 , and Elvis Andrus is 2 for 5. Harden will have a tough time facing a tough offensive lineup such as the Texas Rangers.

"Willing and able"

Left fielder Josh Willingham has been the major source of strength from the Athletics all season long. This isn't a team that will overwhelm their opponents offensively but Josh Willingham  has been a threat to the opponent every time that he step's up to the plate.

Willingham dwarfs the rest of the team with 27 HR, 92 RBI, and .254 BA. During this homestand, Willingham has hit .391 with 3 HR and 8 RBI. Against the Rangers for the season, Willingham is hitting .306 with 5 HR and 12 RBI. This is definitely a player that can change the outcome of agame with one swing of the bat and expect Derek Holland to pitch to Josh Willingham carefully.

Crisp hitting

With players like Jemile Weeks (4 for 23), Hideki Matsui (0 for 15), and Kurt Suzuki (1 for 12) marred in slumps, Coco Crisp has been a consistent source of hitting for the A's all season.

Crisp has a modest 4 game hitting streak in where he's 7 for 18 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI. Crisp is a solid veteran in the lineup that can get the timely hit and steal bases (42) when called upon. The Athletics need to be able to count on Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp against a team with momentum and much to look forward to like the Texas Rangers.

Outcome of the game

The Rangers still have incentive to play well. They want 2nd place in the American league and they can't let up because they finish off the season with 3 games against the Angels. Texas has won 6 out of it's last 7 with Adrian Beltre being a major force. They have the edge in pitching. For this MLB free pick I think that this is good spot to take Texas.

My Pick: Texas -135