The A's won't see Prince Fielder or Mitch Moreland, who are both out with injuries. They won't see Martin Perez, who can't return until some point in 2015 after undergoing elbow surgery, or Matt Harrison, who had spinal fusion surgery.
When both teams woke up on May 1, the A's were three games up on the Rangers after sweeping them in Arlington, Texas. Now, a month and a half later, they enter the series eight games ahead of Texas. A few things to watch:
• Yu Darvish: The ace has a block when it comes to Oakland. He's 1-7 with a 4.73 ERA in nine career outings against the A's. He has 61 strikeouts and 29 walks, a K/BB ratio far worse than his norm. The A's have hit .247 against him, the highest of any opponent he's faced at least four times in his career. It's worth noting that his team has only produced 2.19 runs of support on average, but even doubling that output wouldn't alter Darvish's record much against the A's.
So can he overcome that against the A's on Tuesday? Oh, I should mention he has a 7.71 ERA in three career starts in Oakland? Clearly, the A's have owned him a bit. Let's see if Darvish can change that in this series.
• Leadoff spot: It was Leonys Martin's job this weekend in Seattle and was 3-for-11 with a .333 on-base percentage (higher than what he was doing at the leadoff spot last season) and got the winning hit on Saturday. How will he do as the competition increases? Will manager Ron Washington plug him in and leave him there for a while to see how he does?
• Consistency: Can Alex Rios just keep going steady? The right fielder is hitting .327 with a team-high 32 RBIs. He's 6-for-21 in six games against Oakland but with only two RBIs.
• Quality start: As we discussed earlier today, getting a quality start out of the starting pitchers is critical. Colby Lewis pitches Monday and hasn't had a quality start all season. In fact, he's pitched only six innings once in his 11 starts. He hasn't faced the A's this season, but since 2010, Lewis is 5-4 with a 3.03 ERA against the A's. On the road, he's even better with a 2.44 ERA and a .193 opponent batting average against Oakland. So he won't be intimidated by the AL West leaders.
• Slumping Donaldson: It's a surprise to see Josh Donaldson, who's been one of the top hitting infielders in the AL all season, in a slump. But he's just 2-for-40 in his past 10 games with a homer and two RBIs. In fact, he went 33 at-bats without a hit until an RBI single on Sunday against the New York Yankees. He's 7-for-26 with four RBIs in six games (28 plate appearances) against the Rangers this season.