Cespedes heating up as A's start series in Arlington

Cespedes heating up as A's start series in Arlington
May 20, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Yoenis Cespedes is 3-for-8 with a home run in his last two games after getting three hits in 34 at-bats over his previous nine games. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Dealing with an injured pitcher is nothing new for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.

Not coming out of the bullpen is new for Josh Lindblom, who is expected to make his first major league start - and his Rangers debut - Monday night against the visiting Oakland Athletics.

Despite Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis not pitching this season due to elbow injuries and Matt Harrison out since early April with a herniated disk in his lower back, the Rangers (29-15) have one of the best ERAs in the majors at 3.49.

Even after an 11-8 victory over Detroit on Sunday, their home ERA is 2.89.

Alexi Ogando was in line to start Monday after leading Texas to a 6-2 victory over the A's (23-22) on Wednesday in Oakland, but the former reliever was placed on the disabled list Thursday with right biceps tendinitis. That opened a spot for Lindblom, who went 4-0 with 2.08 in seven starts at Triple-A Round Rock after a difficult spring.

"It seems like when we decided to start him, things began to work better for him," manager Ron Washington said of the right-hander, who has appeared in 101 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia.

Lindblom, acquired from the Phillies in the Michael Young deal, told the Rangers' official website that the transition from the bullpen has allowed him to use his fastball, changeup, slider and curveball and "not be limited as a pitcher."

The A's, though, are unsure of how Lindblom will settle in as a first-time starter.

"We just don't know until we see him pitch," manager Bob Melvin told the A's official website.

Oakland, loser of 12 of 16 on the road, will try to maintain its newfound momentum after rallying for three one-run victories against Kansas City over the weekend. The A's had lost eight of 10 before the sweep.

"I would rather see us win by 10 runs ... but it makes for a little bit more excitement, certainly at the end," Melvin said after a 4-3 victory Sunday.

The Royals series also saw Yoenis Cespedes show signs of breaking out of his slump. The center fielder went 3 for 8 with a homer in the last two games after going 3 for 34 in his previous nine, including a 2-for-11 effort as Oakland dropped two of three to Texas last week.

"The way I work, I always think everything will be fine," Cespedes said. "I believe I'll always get better."

Cespedes should be happy to see Lindblom again. In the slugger's only at-bat against him, he hit a three-run walkoff homer in a 4-1 A's home victory over the Dodgers on June 21.

Texas' Adrian Beltre has batted .500 with two homers and nine RBIs in the last eight contests, driving in a pair of runs and matching a season high with four hits Sunday.

Beltre is batting .317 with five homers - his most against any pitcher - off Bartolo Colon (3-2, 4.56) after going 1 for 3 with a double in a 6-5, 10-inning victory Tuesday.

Colon threw six innings of three-run ball, walking his second batter of the season and failing to record a strikeout for the first time in his career when pitching more than four innings.

Mitch Moreland, tied for the major league lead with seven home runs since May 5, homered off the right-hander Tuesday. His other two hits in the series also left the park.

Texas has won six of seven at home.

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