All the planning Steve Buechele and Jeff Banister did before the Texas Rangers manager left to visit his ailing mother in southeast Texas was seemingly all for naught after the Oakland A’s switched starting pitchers for Saturday.
They scratched left-hander Sean Manaea some four hours before first pitch and replaced him with right-hander Raul Alcantara after the Rangers had loaded their lineup with right-handed hitters.
Going righty-heavy meant that the lefty-hitting Shin-Soo Choo was off and Delino DeShields was in. But despite the A’s switch, the Rangers did not back away from an off day for Choo. He homered Friday off right-hander Kendall Graveman for the Rangers’ lone run.
Buechele said that the decision was made with Sunday, and Carlos Gomez’s sprained right ankle, in mind. Oakland is planning to throw right-hander Jharel Cotton.
“With the rotation that we have going in the outfield, with Cotton going tomorrow it’s a perfect day for Gomez tomorrow to give him a chance to get off that ankle,” Buechele said. “He knows about that already, so we left that as is. Choo will be back out there.”
The Rangers made one right-left lineup tweak, sitting Will Middlebrooks and replacing him at third base with Drew Robinson. Robinson collected two hits Friday in the Rangers’ 4-1 loss but also made a sloppy error that led to an unearned run.
▪ The Rangers’ dugout at Oakland Coliseum is on the first-base line, and it looks directly toward the out-of-town scoreboard for American League games in left field. With the Rangers chasing Minnesota, they knew the outcome of the Twins’ games Friday before they took the field. “They all know,” Buechele said. “If anyone says they’re not watching that, they’re lying to you.”
▪ The Rangers will donate the proceeds from the Texas 2 Split 50/50 Raffle from Monday’s game with the Houston Astros to United for Puerto Rico, the charity Rangers great Ivan Rodriguez is supporting to get aid to his home country after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
▪ Right-hander Keone Kela warmed in the ninth inning Friday and would have pitched on back-to-back days had the Rangers tied the game. Kela has been day-to-day with the lingering effects of a shoulder injury, but Buechele said that he has cleared a hurdle and was available Saturday.