With the bases loaded and one out for the Yankees in the fifth inning against the Rangers on Monday, right-hander Miles Mikolas got Derek Jeter to ground into a double play. The Rangers, trailing 2-1 at the time, came back to win as Mikolas earned his first Major League victory as a starter.
Mikolas, who will start for Texas on Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game series against the A's, allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium. Before then, he had struggled mightily in three starts since joining the rotation in early July.
"If I can get into the eighth against the Yankees -- that's a really good lineup with a lot of experience," Mikolas said. "If I just take what I did there and kind of realize that it doesn't matter so much who's in the box, but the pitches that I make to get outs."
"I hope he realized that he's not a five-inning pitcher and understands that when he goes out there after the fourth inning, that the fifth inning is not the finish line," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "He was on the verge of getting knocked out. And he knocked them out."
Mikolas will be opposed by A's southpaw Scott Kazmir, who is having no trouble pushing deep into games. Kazmir has gone seven innings in each of his last three starts, going 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA. His 2.32 ERA for the season ranks fourth in baseball, a remarkable feat for a man who was playing for the Sugar Land Skeeters just two years ago.
In his first start since pitching in the All-Star game, Kazmir gave up one earned run to Houston in seven frames -- and still felt he could have been better.
"I wasn't as sharp as I'd like to be, but there's going to be starts like that," he said. "I felt like it wasn't necessarily rust, it was just a matter of a couple pitches that I had a little bit of trouble getting a feel for. Later in the game it got a little bit better, but just one of those days where you had to go out and battle.
Oakland is 15-5 in games Kazmir starts.
A's could seek second base help
The A's have looked all but unstoppable this season, but they still feel there's room for improvement at second base. That's the only area Oakland may look to upgrade in advance of the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Eric Sogard is finally producing at the plate, but the A's front office likely won't alter its stance.
Still, Sogard's offensive production has been a welcome change for Oakland. He compiled as many hits in his first 11 at-bats after the All-Star break as he totaled in his previous 35 trips to the plate, earning him a fourth straight start at second base Saturday. He started just three other games total in the month of July.
The A's are also expected to welcome back Alberto Callaspo (right hamstring strain) as soon as Sunday, after he makes a rehab start with Class A Advanced Stockton on Saturday. Sogard is a candidate to be optioned when that happens.
Rangers: Feliz earns first save in three years
With Joakim Soria being traded to the Tigers on Thursday, Neftali Feliz returned to the Rangers' closer role on Friday for the first time since Game 5 of the 2011 World Series against St. Louis.
Feliz, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, allowed a hit and a walk but pulled off a scoreless ninth Friday in the Rangers' 4-1 win over the A's. He earned his first save since Oct. 24, 2011.
"His competitive juices were flowing," said Washington. "I could see him out there wanting it bad. I could see him out there competing. There will be times when Neffie goes out there when he makes it easy because he executes pitches and that's what it's going to take, for him to continue to execute pitches. And there are going to be times out there when he'll have to fight like he did last night.
"He's got fight in him, so as long as he's got fight in him and he's healthy, I'm gonna keep giving him the ball."
• The A's hit four home runs in a span of six at-bats in the sixth and seventh innings on Saturday.
• For the third time in 2014, Texas starters have recorded three quality starts in a row. The last time they had three in a row was June 27-29. They had four in a row June 11-15.
Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.