Wasn’t this yesterday’s headline?: A’s blow lead late, lose to the Rangers


By Morris Phillips

Ryan Madson has seen it all.  And it’s a good thing: after the A’s sobering loss on Sunday, with Madson centered in another Oakland late-inning, bullpen collapse, the wisdom provided by the veteran reliever may have been essential to getting his frustrated teammates on the plane to Seattle for the team’s next three games.

“It’s baseball,” Madson mused. “There are no guarantees until the last out is made. That’s true on both sides. It’s just the game.”

For the third straight day, the A’s led late only to see the Rangers rally and win, 6-4. For the second straight day, things unraveled in the seventh with the A’s leading 4-2. Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh on Sunday, when starter Kendall Graveman ran out of gas, and Madson couldn’t pick him up.  Neither pitcher had anything to do with the two, previous collapses, and their contributions to Sunday’s loss could be summed in just two pitches. One pitch delivered by each, one after the other.

On Graveman’s final offering of the day, a 94 mph fastball, hitter Delino DeShields Jr. hit a sharply struck grounder to third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who fielded it in foul territory behind the bag.  Plouffe’s throw to first was accurate, just not enough steam to catch a speedy DeShields.  Carlos Gomez, the baserunner breaking from second base wasn’t interested in the outcome at first.  Gomez kept running to the plate, narrowing the A’s lead to 4-3.

With DeShields aboard, and Elvis Andrus due to hit, Melvin summoned Madson, ending Graveman’s afternoon after 99 pitches.  But Madson’s first pitch was tatooed by Andrus for a game-tying double.

Three pitches later, all three changeups thrown likely to take advantage of hitter Nomar Mazara’s agressiveness, the Rangers took the lead when Mazara very astutely knocked Madson’s below-the-belt offering into centerfield.  All of a sudden–in the span of five pitches–Graveman was no longer in line for the win, and Madson was pinned with the loss.

“I wanted to be that guy to get us on a good run,” the 36-year old Madson said.  “It didn’t happen. So the next game, whoever goes out there first, they’re going to try and start that wave in the right direction. That’s all you can do.”

Squandered in the loss were home runs hit by Plouffe, Matt Joyce and Adam Rosales. Joyce’s shot came in the fifth with Rajai Davis aboard, and gave the A’s their 4-2 lead. The swinging A’s have homered 16 times in the last eight games, but after Sunday’s loss, the impact of all those homers hasn’t amounted to much.  The A’s have dropped three straight, landing them back in last place in the AL West, now 9 1/2 games off the pace of the streaking Astros, who have the big league’s best record at 26-12.

With the sweep at the hand of the Rangers, the A’s other issue is their desultory play on the road where they’ve dropped 13 of their first 18 contests away from Oakland.

Sean Manaea is expected to come off the disabled list and start at Seattle on Monday. Yovanni Gallardo will pitch for the Mariners. Robinson Cano has missed the last four games for Seattle with a quad injury.

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