ARLINGTON -- Things have changed since the last time the Athletics and Rangers met, but Athletics manager Bob Melvin stressed the same message during this four-game stretch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington -- play with urgency.
"It's always an important series, but you don't want to get too far ahead," Melvin said. "It's a long season, these things tend to flip back and forth quite a bit as you see last time we were here until now."
The Athletics are 22-7 over the last 29 games entering Monday's game. It's the best 29-game stretch in the Majors this year. Their starting pitching staff has a 2.58 ERA in that span with a .224 opposing batting average. They're batting .258 with 129 runs scored and 33 home runs with a three-game lead in the American League West. The Rangers have struggled in June losing six straight, and Josh Reddick doesn't want that to change.
"Our focus right now is keep them struggling," Reddick said."What better time to take advantage when they're three games behind us to go out here, possibly win two out of three and get them five or six games behind us leaving town?"
The Athletics' bullpen will be suited much better for this series due to Reddick and Bartolo Colon. Reddick helped minimize the damage with a shoestring catch in the second. Colon was able to stretch his start out to seven innings to help keep the bullpen fresh.
"You always want to have a bullpen going into a four-game series here that's fairly fresh," Melvin said. "We probably won't have a couple guys available today, but it would've been a lot more difficult had Reddick not made that play and had Bartolo not going seven innings."
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.