Two veteran pitchers quite familiar with one another duel again Thursday afternoon when left-hander Mike Minor leads the visiting Texas Rangers up against righty Mike Fiers and the Oakland Athletics.
The A's will be seeking a three-game series sweep of the Rangers, who have lost four of five. Oakland has also won five games in a row.
The 32-year-old Minor and 35-year-old Fiers went head-to-head twice last September, with the A's prevailing both times in different types of games.
The batters ruled the day in their Sept. 14 matchup in Texas, with the A's pulling out an 8-6 win. Minor took the loss in that one while Fiers got a no-decision.
Minor struggled again in a rematch in Oakland six days later, but Fiers continued his home-field dominance with eight innings of two-hit, no-walk, no-run ball in an 8-0 triumph, while Minor took the loss in that one, too.
A's outfielder Mark Canha homered off Minor in both games, giving him three in their lifetime matchups.
Both starters remain in search for their first win of the 2020 season as each makes his third start.
Minor (0-2, 5.91) got the Rangers' six-game stay in the San Francisco Bay Area off to a rocky start last Friday in San Francisco, allowing nine hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-2 loss.
It's way too early to worry about his 2019 All-Star, Rangers manager Chris Woodward told reporters Wednesday.
"It would be concerning if it's the whole year," Woodward said when asked about Minor's fastball velocity being down this season. "With the short camp and getting ready for this, I don't know that it's the same. Physically, he feels fine. There's nothing bothering him to make us concerned."
What might concern Minor is that the A's bombed four homers against three Rangers pitchers in Wednesday's 6-4 win. Matt Olson had two of the four.
Minor has gone 2-4 with a 5.65 ERA in nine games, including six starts, in his career against Oakland.
Fiers (0-0, 5.40) has similarly mediocre numbers against the Rangers, having gone 4-3 with a 5.76 ERA in 13 games (12 starts).
The veteran can only hope to get as much production out of his catcher as four A's pitchers received from rookie Austin Allen in Wednesday's win.
In a game Oakland once trailed 4-2, Allen gave the A's the lead for good with a two-run home run, the first of his career, in the seventh inning.
"A huge home run and calling a win and finishing it out ... big day for him," assured A's manager Bob Melvin, a former big-league catcher himself. "You always remember those days. Certainly our first home run, but contributions all the way around and catching a "W,' especially when you're behind. This will be a day he'll remember forever."
All six Oakland runs were the products of homers. Allen and Olson had two-run shots.
Texas countered with one homer. It came on Sean Manaea's first pitch of the game, courtesy of Shin-Soo Choo.
--Field Level Media