ARLINGTON -- It was just last week the A's were swept in their home park by the Rangers. Now they have the chance to get even with their division foes by completing a three-game sweep in Texas on Wednesday evening.
The A's outscored the Rangers, 13-3, in the first two games of this series to take a two-game lead in the American League West and improve to 17-10 on the season, which is the best record in the AL.
They'll send right-hander Jesse Chavez to the mound for their final game of the month, while the Rangers counter with lefty Robbie Ross to try to salvage a game of the series. Chavez narrowly holds the ERA edge, 2.32 to 2.45.
Chavez went five innings in his last start against the Astros, after completing at least six in each of his first four outings of the year. He had also allowed just one earned run in each of those outings, but in Houston he was tagged for four (five total) after scattering eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts on 90 pitches.
He'll be facing a Rangers lineup that's struggled to get much production from the top of the order over a 4-5 stretch.
Through Tuesday, hitters occupying the first three spots in the Rangers' batting order were hitting a combined .172 (17-for-99) over the past nine games, with just one home run and 13 RBIs. Elvis Andrus has started all of those games in the No. 2 hole, hitting just .088 (3-for-34) during that timeframe.
Andrus had pushed his average to .308 before his current slide began.
"He's not getting through the baseball like he was earlier, that's all," manager Ron Washington said. "[He's] topping a lot of stuff. But then again he's smoked some stuff that's being caught, too. I hope we're not going to go through a month of that again. It seems like when the game has been on the line he's been giving us his best at-bats."
The leadoff spot has been split between Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Choice and the third spot has been held by Alex Rios, Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder. Combined, those five players hit .203 (12-for-59) while in the top three spots in the order from April 20-28.
For Ross, this will be the sixth start of his career and his first against Oakland. He has pitched in 16 games against the Athletics, all as a reliever, compiling a 4.30 ERA in 14 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts.
Ross has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts this season.
Rangers: Kouzmanoff facing back surgery
Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff said Tuesday he may have to undergo back surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lumbar spine. Rangers back specialist Dr. Drew Dossett has recommended surgery, said Kouzmanoff, who has numbness in his right leg and calf.
"Surgery is a last thing, but I think now it's to the point that maybe the time has come," Kouzmanoff said. "There was just an adjustment period for a couple days. It was hard to swallow, but now it's like, OK, this is the way it's going to be and we just have to make a decision to move on from here."
Kouzmanoff will be re-examined Friday by Dr. Robert Watkins while the team is in Anaheim, but Kouzmanoff isn't optimistic he'll avoid surgery. Kouzmanoff said he has been told if he does have the procedure, he will be out 7-12 weeks.
The 32-year-old veteran was called up when Adrian Beltre was injured and hit .362 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 13 games.
A's: Griffin to undergo elbow surgery
Already sans Jarrod Parker for the year, the A's learned Tuesday they'll also have to continue on without right-hander A.J. Griffin, who will undergo elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston and miss the entire season.
The A's are not yet calling it Tommy John surgery, since the extent of the procedure won't be known until after it's completed, but it could very well come to that.
Griffin experienced elbow discomfort in September and again in mid-March, at which point the A's shut him down, hoping that rest would prove to be the cure. But the discomfort returned when Griffin began a throwing program last week, leading to his Tuesday visit with Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff, who will perform the procedure.
• A's outfielder Josh Reddick collected two RBIs on Tuesday night, giving him four in the last five games. He had just four total in his first 19 games.
• Rangers outfielder Alex Rios, who doubled in his second at-bat Tuesday, has hit safely in eight straight games and 13 of 14.
• Texas batters have gone homerless in five straight games. The team's 14 home runs this season are tied with the Padres for the second fewest in the Majors, ahead of only Kansas City (10).