|Minor looks to stay hot as Rangers visit A's|
Two pitchers with a lot of promise but uncertain futures go head-to-head Monday night when the visiting Texas Rangers open a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
Both teams are coming off nail-biters that went down to the last pitch Sunday, with the Rangers holding off Houston 11-10 in a game that finished about an hour before the A's stranded the potential tying run at second base in a 5-4 loss to Toronto.
The Rangers and A's split a pair earlier this month at Texas in a series cut short by a rainout.
Neither Rangers left-hander Mike Minor (2-1, 2.60) nor A's righty Chris Bassitt -- who will make his 2019 debut -- pitched in the earlier series.
Minor has pitched brilliantly ever since getting roughed up by the Chicago Cubs for six runs in 4 2/3 innings in his first start of the season. He's since pitched 23 innings over three starts, allowing a total of 13 hits and just two runs.
The 31-year-old is coming off a three-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, insisting afterward that he has yet to reach the top of his game.
"I'm just trying to put some stuff together right now," Minor told reporters in the wake of the win. "Every game we've gotten a little bit better. If I could get everything working, that's when you're controlling every pitch and that's when you're locked in."
It's that kind of potential that has teams already scouting Minor as a potential trade acquisition. The Philadelphia Phillies are among the teams reportedly most interested.
Minor has pitched six times in his career against the A's, three times as a starter, going 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA. He allowed just one hit in six shutout innings when he beat the A's 4-2 last August.
Among the few who have had success against Minor is A's slugger Khris Davis, who has a home run among three hits in nine career at-bats against the lefty.
Davis struggled as Oakland was swept in three games over the weekend at the hands of Toronto, a series in which the A's were outscored 20-6 and out-hit 35-19.
Having just signed a two-year contract extension worth $33.5 million, Davis went 2-for-10 against the Blue Jays with five strikeouts.
In an attempt to end a three-game losing streak, the A's have promoted Bassitt from the minors for the first time this year.
After going 2-3 with a 3.02 ERA last season to complete a comeback from 2016 Tommy John surgery, Bassitt was a candidate to earn a spot in the A's season-opening rotation before taking a line drive off his knee in an exhibition game in Japan.
His first big-league start will come in place of injured Marco Estrada, with no long-term guarantees. But manager Bob Melvin expects big things.
"We've seen a guy who's now fully back to his best health," Melvin told reporters last week. "His velo looked like it picked up again this spring, and it looked like he was confident with what he was doing. I think he's probably as ready as he's ever been."
Bassitt has faced the Rangers three times in his career, once as a starter. He's gone 0-1 while allowing seven runs in seven innings.
--Field Level Media