The difference between the first two games in Texas and tonight’s loss versus the Rangers was the fact that the A’s very well could have won those games. Tonight was a very different story, they didn’t execute any of the fundamentals tonight and the result was a loss that wasn’t even close. The ugly road version of Tommy Milone returned to the mound tonight, but this time it really wasn’t all his fault. He did allow 6 runs to the Texas Rangers tonight, but only 1 of them was earned because the defense behind him let him down. The A’s didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard themselves against rookie lefty Martin Perez, so perhaps this game was destined for failure even if the defense didn’t have the ugly night it did.
TURNING POINT: Up until the bottom of the 5th inning this game was developing into a nice pitchers duel between two young talented starters, but the Texas Rangers we poised to break the duel and the A’s were more than willing to lend a hand. An error by Brandon Inge put Nelson Cruz on base, a Mike Napoli single, and a fielder’s choice that nailed Cruz out at home set up the scoring for the Rangers. Ian Kinsler drove in the first two runs with a 2 out single after Craig Gentry was retired. The big blow came after another A’s error put Elvis Andrus on and Josh Hamilton at the plate. Like he has done to so many talented pitchers before, Hamilton took Tommy Milone deep to center field for a 3 run home run that pretty much iced this game for the Rangers. The big disastrous inning had struck again in Texas, and the demons that haunt the A’s in that ballpark grew even stronger.
ON THE HILL: Tommy Milone started the game off so well by striking out the side in the bottom of the 1st inning, but it didn’t end like it started. Ultimately Milone pitched 6 innings and allowed 6 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits without walking anyone, he did strike out 6 Rangers in the process. Brian Fuentes pitched a scoreless 7th inning, but began to struggle in the 8th and was pulled in favor of Jordan Norberto who surrendered the run that was charged to Fuentes. It may be a few weeks before we see Fuentes again, if we ever do. Norberto’s line was fairly solid despite allowing the inherited runner to score, he pitched 1.2 innings and allowed 2 hits and no runs while striking out 1.
AT THE PLATE: There were definitely some missed opportunities in tonight’s game, and the A’s could have climbed back into this game with a timely hit here or there, but that his was not to be found. The highlight of the night was again the recently recalled Chris Carter who hit his second home run of the season in his second game and also had a double in 4 at bats. It’s nice to see Carter off to a hot start as opposed to the normal profound slump he starts off with. Jemile Weeks, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brandon Inge each went 1-4 with Inge collecting the other RBI for the A’s, Josh Reddick was 1-3 with a walk as well.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It appears as if the Rangers are in the process of dealing the devastating knockout blow to the A’s hopes of making any kind of noise in 2012, much like they did in 2011 around this time. This was a game the A’s absolutely needed to win and they simply didn’t play like that was the case. Urgency can bring out the best in some teams, and bring out the very worst in others. Tonight’s game was an obvious example of the latter. The A’s will attempt to salvage a game in Texas by (somehow) defeating Yu Darvish (10-4, 3.57 ERA) who has been shaky at times this season, and simply unhittable other times. Travis Blackley will try to be the stopper for the A’s tomorrow, looking for his second win of the season, he brings a 3.05 ERA to the table. Tomorrow’s game is an unusual 4:05 PM PST Sunday first pitch so the A’s will have plenty of time to try and plot a way to some way some how defeat the best team in the world right now. The Rangers are on pace for 100 wins this year, the A’s are just trying not to get run over by this fast moving locomotive.