It was a game that the A’s were in a position to win, but the Texas Rangers had other ideas. For the second time on this road trip an Athletics starter turned in a really solid start as Dan Straily sidestepped defensive miscues to pitch 6.2 strong innings. The A’s got themselves on the board first when Josh Donaldson hit a no doubt 2 run home run to the back of the bleachers in left center field. Straily though was unable to convert the total shut down inning after a hit-by-pitch and an error put Michael Young at 3rd base, Mitch Moreland got jammed but muscled a ball to left to bring in Young.
The A’s would get that run back when Yoenis Cespedes launched his 21st home run of the season just as far as Donaldson’s. Straily would settle down the scoring for a couple innings until Josh Hamilton, back in the lineup after dealing with some eye issues hit a solo home run every bit as far as Donaldson’s or Cespedes’ for his 43rd of the season. The A’s would answer back again with a Pennington RBI single, and at that point it looked like the A’s were poised to grab game 1 of this series.
Dan Straily came out for the 7th inning after an ultra efficient 6 pitch 6th inning, he retired the first two batters without problem and was promptly removed from the game as Josh Hamilton came to bat. Over his 6.2 innings he allowed 5 hits, 2 runs (1 ER), and struck out 8 with 2 walks.
It appears that this was a predetermined move and Straily was not going to face Hamilton no matter what the situation was. Jerry Blevins came in, who had retired Hamilton every time he’d faced him, but after a long battle Hamilton drew a walk.
Manager Bob Melvin took Blevins out and brought in Pat Neshek to face Adrian Beltre. But a hanging slider up and out over the plate was crushed into the right field bleachers by Beltre who continues to be an A’s killer. The game was tied and every bit of momentum the A’s had built evaporated in a few short seconds.
Ryan Cook blew away the Rangers in the 8th inning, paving the way for… Tyson Ross??? Yeah that Tyson Ross. In a rather curious move with the likes of Grant Balfour and even Evan Scribner remaining in the bullpen, the tall right hander was tasked with keeping the Rangers off the board and attempting to send this game into extra innings. Ross didn’t waste much time, which is the lone positive of this inning. A Mitch Moreland single, another by Ian Kinsler, a sacrifice by Elvis Andrus, an intentional walk to Josh Hamilton, and a solid single up the middle by Adrian Beltre sealed the victory for the Rangers.
I know the bullpen has been worked real hard lately, and typically closers for visiting teams don’t enter a tie game, but this seemed like the moment to break that rule and save that tie.
It’s not bad enough that Beltre has repeatedly turned down chances to play for the A’s, he had to sign within our division and constantly come up huge against them.
This loss puts the A’s dreams of catching the Rangers for the AL West title on life support. Now trailing by 5 games with 9 left to play, it’ll will take just about a clean sweep of the remaining 6 games against Texas to have any kind of chance. Meanwhile in the wild card race the Baltimore Orioles split a double header today, so the A’s are 1.5 games behind the Orioles. The Angels were off today so they gained a 1/2 game without lifting a finger and are 2 games behind the A’s. At the moment it looks worse than it really is, the A’s still have a hold on a playoff spot by 2 games, but they really have to get their act together in a hurry or else the fast charging Angels will steal that spot from them. Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.81 ERA) faces off against Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90 ERA) as the A’s once again try to right the ship in the stormiest of stormy waters.
PS: Josh Reddick is now 0 for his last 27 with 2 walks in that span. He was 0-1 with RISP. The struggle continues.