Thanks in part to his pinpoint control, Brett Anderson is one of baseball's more promising young pitchers.
However, the talented left-hander has been anything but sharp against the Texas Rangers.
Looking for a far better performance against the Rangers than he had last month, Anderson takes the mound Tuesday for the visiting Oakland Athletics as the AL West rivals continue a three-game set.
Fronting an impressive young rotation along with Trevor Cahill, the 23-year-old Anderson (2-2, 2.77 ERA) has helped Oakland (19-17) compile a major league-leading 2.62 ERA. He was at his best during Thursday's 4-3, 12-inning defeat to Cleveland, giving up two runs and seven hits over nine innings.
"Anderson was tough," Indians manager Manny Acta told MLB.com. "We had a couple opportunities, and when you have those type of guys on the mound, you do need to execute. Unfortunately, we didn't against him. He was very tough."
Anderson struggled with his command in an 11-2 loss to Texas on April 30, matching career worsts by surrendering seven runs and three homers, and issuing four walks - equaling his number of free passes from his other six starts combined this season.
"It was perfect storm of everything bad," he said. "My stuff was bad, command was bad, just a bad day. It was almost embarrassing or even comical how bad it was."
Anderson, whose 6.44 ERA versus Texas is his worst against any club he's faced more than once, is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three career outings in Arlington.
He'll try to follow in the footsteps of Cahill, who lowered his ERA to 1.72 and improved to 6-0 with seven innings of one-run ball in Monday's series-opening 7-2 win.
Josh Willingham, in the lineup for Oakland after appealing his one-game suspension for making contact with an umpire Saturday, provided much of the offense, going 2 for 4 with a home run and five RBIs.
"I'm glad I put off my suspension," he said. "That lasted about a second after I appealed it and I wasn't suspended anymore."
Texas (18-18) is tied for the AL lead in runs (170) and ranks second in homers (41), but has scored two runs or fewer in three of its last five games, getting outscored 31-16 over that span. Following a 9-1 start to the season, the Rangers have dropped 17 of 26, including seven of nine in May.
"Everybody knows what's going on right now. Nobody's enjoying it. But there's a lot of baseball left to be played," outfielder David Murphy said. "We could be in a lot worse spot. We can hit a winning streak and the guys ahead of us could have a losing streak. But that wouldn't change that there's a lot of baseball left."
Probable Rangers starter Colby Lewis (2-4, 5.21), who threw eight strong innings to defeat Anderson last month, gave up three runs and struck out a career-best 11 over eight innings of Thursday's 3-1 defeat at Seattle, getting credit for a complete game.
Lewis, 1-2 with a 7.31 ERA in three home starts this year, went 0-2 with a 4.12 ERA in three matchups with Oakland at Rangers Ballpark in 2010.
While A's designated hitter Hideki Matsui is 6 for 13 with two homers off Lewis, the hard-throwing right-hander has shut down Daric Barton and Cliff Pennington, limiting them to four hits in 34 total at_bats.
The Rangers' Michael Young and Mike Napoli are a combined 11 for 22 with two homers off Anderson.
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