OAKLAND — The A's host the Rangers for the first time this season Monday in the Coliseum.

These are the teams that have finished 1-2 the last two seasons, Oakland emerging on top each time. And they are 1-2 this year as well, Oakland holding a slim lead over Texas.

The teams have been in the American League West since the Rangers moved from Washington to the Dallas Metroplex for the 1972 season. But their fan bases are 1,500 miles apart, and they haven't delivered the same kind of in-your-face rivalry that other divisions have.

That may be in the process of evolving. If it is, A's manager Bob Melvin suggests, it's not because of bad blood but because of good baseball.

``There is some (rivalry) because of the fact that we've been 1-2 the last couple of years,'' Melvin said. ``And based on how it finished up in '12, it becomes a bit of a natural rivalry.''

The A's were behind by 13 games on June 31, 2012, but put on a furious kick the last three months of the season, including six of seven down the stretch when the Rangers had a chance to put the division title away.

``(Any rivalry) is just a product of what both team have accomplished over the last few years. I don't think there is any bad blood. It's based on the record and the position in the standings.''


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Monday's game will be the first for A's outfielder Craig Gentry against Texas, the team for which he played his entire big league career before the A's acquired him in a December trade to be their fourth outfielder, a similar role to the one he had with the Rangers.

Melvin said Gentry will be in the starting lineup Monday against Yu Darvish and likely could start in the series finale Wednesday when lefty Martin Perez throws.

  • Six hits in the last two games heading into Sunday have the A's believing they may have seen a turnaround for Josh Reddick.

    The right fielder has lifted his average more than 100 points, but since he's still just at .200, that accomplishment shows just how deep a hole Reddick dug for himself in the first two weeks of the season.

    And while the two-run homer on Saturday opened eyes the widest, for manager Bob Melvin, Sunday's single to left field mean just as much coming from someone who is such a strict pull hitter.

    ``I think any time guys struggle some, they tend to pull off the ball,'' Melvin said. ``It's easier said than done to say I'm going to stay on the ball and hit the ball the other way. The trick is to let it travel some.

    ``I think it was key to get a hit to left field. And now you are seeing him pull some balls. And even his home run was a little bit more right-center than you usually see him. It's something he's really trying to do is set a little longer look at the ball.''

  • Opposing base runners are 13-for-13 against the A's and on Saturday Derek Norris's wild throw in an attempt to catch Houston's Jonathan Villar at third base led to the third and final Astros run.

    Melvin said that much of the problem has not to do with the throwing arm of Norris (and fellow catcher John Jaso) but on the pitching staff. The starting pitchers have done a reasonable job of holding runners close, but the bullpen has been somewhat more lax.

    "Any (number) double digits tends to be a trend that you want work the other way,'' Melvin said. ``It's not just the catchers. It maybe some of the pitchers are too slow to the plate, which we try to work on. It's a bit of a concern.''

    A year ago the A's catchers threw out 27 of 114 would-be thieves, making them successful just slightly under one-quarter of the time.

    "We try to get better with it,'' Melvin said. ``Derek hasn't had too many real opportunities. We have to be a bit smarter about it. If (the out) is not there, then just hold on to the ball.''

    The out was there in the second inning Sunday. Jaso threw out Jose Altuve, the leadoff hitter, trying to steal third.