By Morris Phillips
What did it take for the A’s to squeeze past host Texas on Sunday and salvage a split of the two teams’ rapid fire, four-game series?
Everything they had.
The A’s saw their 8-0, fourth inning lead evaporate over the final innings, so much so they needed an afterthought, RBI single from Khris Davis in the top of the ninth inning to provide the margin of victory in a 9-8 nail biter.
“After losing the doubleheader, we were going to take a win any way we can get it,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We gave some runs back, but thank goodness we got that last out.”
Davis’ two-run homer off Rangers’ starter Drew Smyly in the third inning seemed to accomplish the intended dismissal of the Rangers, putting the A’s up 5-0 at that point. If not, the A’s three-run fourth–highlighted by Marcus Semien’s two-run double–surely did the trick, putting the A’s up 8-0.
But it didn’t. The red hot Rangers–winners of 17 of 24 coming in–wouldn’t go away.
The Rangers took advantage of the best pitching the A’s had to offer, first with a pair of runs off staff ace Frankie Montas in the fourth. Then the Rangers burned set up man Lou Trivino for three runs in the eighth, and one more off Blake Treinen in the ninth. The A’s defense didn’t help matters with a pair of errors accounting for unearned runs in the sixth and the ninth to make things dicey.
With Treinen on to nail down the last three outs, the Rangers came up with three base hits to narrow the lead to 9-7, then 9-8 when Josh Phlegley was charged with a passed ball, allowing Nomar Mazara to race home from third. But with two on and two out, Treinen induced a fly ball out off the bat of Ronald Guzman to end in it.
“I’m glad we pulled this one out. We needed this win,” said Davis, who homered for the first time since May 13.
The four-game set took less than 48 hours to complete, and forced the teams to endure consecutive days in the grueling, North Texas sun. The Rangers pitching staff fared better than the A’s, as they got a lengthy start from Adrian Sampson on Saturday night. The A’s had to lean on all of its significant bullpen arms at least twice, which will impact their next series at the East-leading Tampa Bay Rays starting Monday.