Rangers beat the A’s again, 5-2

Photo credit sfgate.com: Oakland Athletics’ Ramon Laureano, left, reacts after being hit by a pitch thrown by Texas Rangers’ Rafael Montero in the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 27, 2019, in Oakland, Calif.

By: Lewis Rubman

Texas: 5 | 7 | 2
Oakland: 2 | 5 | 2

OAKLAND — Last Monday, the Houston Astros clobbered the A’s, 11-1. The next day, Mike Fiers and the bullpen combined to revenge that loss by holding the powerhouse team from the Lone Star state to three runs on eight hits over 11 innings while Oakland managed to score four times, also on eight hits, on a double by Ramón Laurano.

This evening, the A’s took the field behind Daniel Mengden, hoping to replicate that recovery and bounce back from last night’s similar 11-3 drubbing at the hands of the other Texas team, the Rangers from Arlington. The A’s righty went into the game at 5-1, but with an ugly ERA of 4.65. He has a six-pitch repertoire, and his most frequently thrown pitch is the four seam fastball, which he uses about a third of the time. His counterpart on the Rangers, the also right handed Lance Lynn, took the more impressive record of 12-6, 3.93 ERA, to the mound. His favorite pitch also is the four seamer, which he throws a little less than half the time, at an average velocity of between 94 and 94.5 miles per hour. The A’s bullpen looked shabby last night, with only Brian Schlitter failing to disappoint. Tonight, it looked better, but still not good.

In spite of last night’s dismal showing, at first pitch Oakland still was in a virtual tie with Tampa Bay for second place in the craps shoot that is the wild card race, leading the Rays by a minute fraction of a percentage point. Both clubs were three games behind Cleveland for the first wild card slot. As far as the Western Division lead is concerned, they’ll cross that bridge if and when they come to it.

The A’s opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when they loaded the bases on back to back errors by shortstop Danny Sanatana on grounders by Semien and Chapman followed by a three and two walk to Olson. After Llynn used his four seamer to strike out Mark Canha swinging, Laureano drove in Semien from third on a sacrifice fly to left. Lynn closed out the inning by striking out the struggling Khris Davis.

The second inning featured two spectacular defensive plays, one in each half of the frame. In the top of the inning, Chapman made a leaping grab of Willie Cahfoun’s hard line drive to what would have been short if the A’s hadn’t been deploying the shift. Not to be outdone, Delino DeShields performed a high jump over the center field fence to rob Chris Herrmann of what would have been a two run homer in the the bottom of the frame. In retrospect, it might well have been the decisive play of the game.

The series of outstanding plays continued in the top of the third when Matt Olson chased down DeShield’s foul fly to the right of the visiting bullpen. Turnabout, I guess, is fair play.

Oakland doubled its lead in the bottom of the third on a single to center by Semien, followed, after Lynn K’ed Chapman, by a four pitch walk to Olson and Canha’s single to left. Lynn recovered, getting Laureano and Davis to strike out swinging.

Texas went ahead with two out in the top of the fourth when Nomar Mazara smashed a hard liner past a diving Jurickson Profar and into right center field for a double that scored Shin-Soo Choo, who had led off the inning with a walk, on a close play at the plate. Calhoun followed suit with a double to left that brought in Mazara, who, in turn, scored the tie breaking tally on Asdrúbal Cabrera’s single to right. Forsythe’s fly to left stopped the bleeding, but the Rangers held a 3-2 lead.

Megden’s day’s work was over when he threw his 93rd pitch, a ball to Calhoun on a three and two count that put runners on first and second with one down in the top of the sixth. Blake Treinen, still trying to regain a semblance of the form that had made him the best closer in baseball last season, replaced him. He promptly surrendered a clean single to right by Cabrera, driving in Mazara from second with the fourth Texas run, which was charged to Megden. After a walk to Forsythe, Treinen found success with his power sinker, striking out DeShields and forcing Mathis to pop out to Profar to end the inning.

Ryan Buchter, who replaced Treinen to pitch the seventh, escaped unscathed in spite of his allowdng a single to Odor and Santana’s reaching base on an error by Semien. One reason for Buchter having achieved this was his picking the speedy Odor off first. Buchter stayed in the game long enough to give up a lead off homer to Mazara in the eighth, a shot into the right center field bleachers. Cabrera followed that with a hard line drive down the left field line that a diving backhand stop by Chapman held to a single. After a called third strike on Forsythe for the first out, Buchter gave way to the veteran Joaquim Soria. He got back to back strike outs of DeShields and Jeff Mathis and returned to the dugout.

Jesse Chavez, the ex-Athletic, came in for Lynn at the beginning of the A’s seventh and was effective in his one inning of relief, striking out two and not allowing a base runner. His eighth inning replacement, José LeClerc, who, after a terrible start to the season, has been on a hot streak over his last two dozen appearances, set the top of the Oakland line up down in order.

Lou Trivino held the line for the A’s in the top of the ninth. After a rare error at first by Olson, Rougned Odor blasted a fly to deep ccenter field, just short of the 400 foot sign. Laureano caught it and threw out Choo, trying to advance to second.

Canha greeeted Chris Martin, trying to close out the win, with a double to left center to lead off the home ninth. A walk to Laureano brought Khris Davis to the plate as the potential tying run. But mighty KD struck out. So did Robbie Grossman. Now Chris Herrmann represented the potential tying run or its possible last out. He grounded out to third to end the game.

When the tumult and the shouting had subsided, the A’s were tied with Boston, a half a game behind Tampa Bay for the last wild card spot and four behind Cleveland in the race to be the home team in the play in.

Lance Lynn got the well deserved win, allowing only one earned run. Martin earned his fourth save. Daniel Megden took the loss, as, once again, the A’s starter coughed up an early lead, and the bullpen couldn’t keep the game within reach. Poor control was Megden’s undoing. Of his 93 pitches, only 49, that is, 57%, were strikes. Lynn, in contrast, threw 111 pitches, 73 of which were strikes.

Tomorrow’s contest is scheduled to begin at 6:07 pm and will feature two right-handers, Adrian Sampson (6-7, 5.19 ERA) on the mound for Texas against the A’s Homer Bailey (8-7, 5.42 ERA overall; 1-1,12.38 ERA) for Oakland.

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