Matt Olson (28) who had four RBIs for the Oakland A’s slides into second under Texas Rangers second baseman Nick Solak was forced out Solak makes the throw to first base to complete the double play at the Oakland Ring Central Coliseum in Oakland on Fri Sep 10, 2021 (AP News photo)
Texas 5 – 8 – 1
Oakland 10 – 16- 0
By Lewis Rubman
Friday, September 10 2021
OAKLAND–The Texas Rangers have been a bit of a burr under the Athletics’ saddle this year. The lowly vigilantes from the Lone Star state (51-88 going into tonight’s fray) are the AL West cellar dwellers and are likely to remain so under their season is little more than an unpleasant memory.
Their record against the A’s as they entered into the first of a three game set that will comprise the last two meetings between the two teams for 2021 was 7-9, close enough to give them a chance of winning the season series. That’s not likely, but it is possible. Oakland’s winning percentage is .506 against the Rangers, .551 against all other teams.
Texas had another factor going for them, the desire to be a spoiler. Schadenfreude, the consolation of also-rans.
Paul Blackman brought an 0-2, 4.12 record to the mound for the A’s. With the exception of his disastrous start against Toronto on September 4, he had improved markedly in both of his starts since his first big league appearance of the year, which came on August 18, when the A’s called him up from Las Vegas to face the White Sox.
His opponent, Glenn Otto, was acquired by Texas from the Yankees as part of the Joey Gallo deal. He was sent to Round Rock and promoted to the show late last month.
He impressive in his first start, in which he hurled five scoreless innings while striking out seven Astros. He allowed two earned runs on two hits and walk before leaving a tied game against the Angels in his other start
Tonight, in spite of a fast start by the Rangers and Blackburn’s early departure, Oakland was able to overcome Texas by a convincing score of 10-5, thanks in no small part by stong work by what might be a revitalized bullpen. A four hit night by Olson, who upped his RBI total to 94, combined with three hits each from Marte and Kemp didn’t hurt.
Blackburn struck out two Rangers in his 22 pitch first inning but still came out of the frame trailing 1-0. After Leody Taveras led off with an infield single, Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a bounder to the mound, and the A’s starter elected to go for the sure out at first.
That put Taveras on second, and he came home on Adolis García’s crisp single to left center. He stole second without a throw, but Blackburn’s change up and curve got him those two punch outs that kept the damage down to a minimum.
The A’s got that run back and more in the second. Lowrie led off with a walk on a full count. Canha got hit for the MLB leading 23rd time of ‘21, moving Lowrie to second. Kemp singled with a hard ground to right, loading the sacks with Athletics.
Murphy lined a single to left that moved everyone up a base, which brought Lowrie in with the tying run. The A’s continued to advance station to station when Otto plunked Andrus, which gave Oakland the lead as Canha touched home. After Harrison struck out, Marte again moved the runners up a notch, with Kemp scoring the third Oakland tally.
Olson cleared the bases, putting the home team up 6-1 with what looked like a double to right, but a review on showed that he had stepped off second too soon and Kiner-Falefa had tagged him out. Oakland’s half dozen run rally was ended with yet another baserunning mistake when Chapman was called out on strikes.
The 6-1 Athletic lead looked pretty solid until Texas started to knock Blackburn around in the top of the next inning. One out singles by Kiner-Falefa and García put men on first and second.
Nate Lowe’s double to center drove in both of them and and cut the A’s lead to 6-3. A strike out later, Nick Solak’s single to left cut that to 6-4 and brought Deolis Guerra to the mound to replace the ineffective Blackburn.
He had lasted 2-2/3 innings, during which he threw 65 pitches, of which 37 were strikes. Bear in mind that every Ranger hit, of which there were six, contributed at least one to that last figure. All four of the runs against Blackburn were earned. He had three strike outs to his credit. Guerra held the visitors to a walk in his 1-1/3 innings of work.
Otto didn’t last much longer. Andrus led off the fourth with a double to left and, one out later, Marte unleashed a slicing drive to right center for a triple that streched the A’s lead to 7-4, sending Otto to the showers and Hyeon-Jong Yang to the mound.
The run that Marte scored on Olson’s subsequent single to center was charged to Otto, whose line ran 3-1/3 innings of mound duty, eight runs, all earned, on eight hits, two hit batters, and a walk. He struck out five and threw 78 pitches, 54 strikes.
Josh Harrison had gone hitless in the three at bats when he faced Yang with Murphy on second and Kemp on third and two out in the Oakland fifth. His ground single to left scored both runners and boosted the A’s advantage to 11-4.
Lee Trivino started the sixth for the green and gold. He looked sharp, setting the Rangers down. in order on a dozen pitches.
Dane Dunning, freshly activated from the COVID-19 list faced the A’s in the bottom of the sixth and survived a single by Khris Davis, who had replaced Lowrie as DH, and an error by usually reliable Kiner-Falefa at short, to keep the Athletics off the board. Yusmeiro Petit pitched a perfect top of the seventh for them. Then it was Dennis Santana’s turn to deal with Oakland in the home half of the inning.
It took him 28 pitches to do it, but do it he did, and Jake Diekman was on the mound, trying to mess with Texas in the eighth. It was messy, with three of the four batters he faced working full counts, but all they got for it was a walk. Josh Sborz handled the formalities of pitching to Oakland in the bottom of the inning.
That left it to Burch Smith to close down the visitors for one last frame. He faced the bottom of the order, Trevino, Pozo, and Hernández. Fly out to right. Fly out to center.
An infield single by Hernández brought Tavares to the plate, and his double to deep center field brough Hernández home with the Rangers´fifth run, the first the bull pen had alowed since it went into action in the third. A called third strike on Kiner-Falefa put the final touch on the A’s victory.
The win went to Deolis Guerra, who now is 4-1, 3.56, Otto, now 0-1, 6.92, took the loss. There was no save.
The Astros beat the Angels, so they Oakland still trails Houston by 5-1/2 games. Because the Mets handled the Yankees, the A’s are only a half a game out of the second wild card berth.
The series will resume Saturday afternoon at 1:07 with Cole Irvin (9-13, 4.10) pitching for Oakland and Kolby Allard (3-12,5.00) opposing him for Texas.