The Texas Rangers Jonah Heim (28) watches the flight of his eighth inning two run homer against the Oakland A’s on Sat Sep 11, 2021 at the Oakland Ring Central Coliseum (AP News photo)
Texas 8 – 11 – 0
Oakland 6 – 9 – 0
By Lewis Rubman
Saturday September 11, 2021
OAKLAND–I’m not going to comment on today ‘s being 9/11. Not because the events of that day, their causes and consequences are insignificant, but because they are too significant to be dealt with by the platitudes that so often accompany ballpark commemorations.
This leaves the relatively insignificant matter of this afternoon’s contest between the Oakland Athletics and the visiting Texas Rangers as the principal topic of this dispatch.
The game started auspiciously for Oakland, with Starling Marte blasting a one out homer 407 feet into left field off of surprise starter Wes Benjamin to put the A’s ahead 1-0. It ended, two hours and 46 minutes later, in a crushing defeat, with Oakland blowing a four run lead in the eighth inning
The Athletics stretched their first inning lead in the second. With two down, DH Khris Davis slammed a double off the left center field wall between the 7-Up and Rickey Henderson Field signs and scored on Chad Pinder’s single to left, making the score 2-0.
Matt Olson’s 33rd home run and 95th RBI of the season, a 392 foot blast over the right centerfield scoreboard on an 83mph cut fast ball widened the gap between the teams to three runs.
The Rangers came back in the fourth with DJ Peter’s lead off single to left against Oakland starter Cole Irwin. A strike out later, Nick Solak drove him home with a line drive double that landed just inside the right field foul line.
Yoel Pozo followed that with a single to center that brought Texas to within a run of the A’s. But Irvin pute an end to that with back to back Ks of ex-Athletic Jonah Heim and of Charlie Colberson.
The A’s were back on the attack in the bottom half of the frame. Yan Gomes opened it up with a walk, and Mark Canha’s 17th round tripper, which flew over lthe glove of a leaping Leody Taveeras just to the right of the 400 foot sign in straightaway center field restored the Athletics’ three run margin.
A walk to Pinder and Elvis Andrus’s double to left, which put Pinder on third, sent Benjamin to the showers. One-time A Jharel Cotton took his place. Benjamin had thrown 62 pitches, 42 for strikes, in four innings, allowing six and achieving an equal number of strike outs.
In addition to the five runs that had scored when he left the game, he was charged with the one that came on Josh Harrison’s sacrifice fly to center that plated Pinder. Marte’s drive to the left field fence almost broke the game wide open, but it landed in DJ Peters’ glove for the final out (Davis had grounded to third for the first).
Irvin received a nice ovation from the crowd (if you can call it a crowd) of 7,945 when he struck out Leody Taveras to end the Texas seventh. They knew that, with the right handed batters coming up for the Rangers in the eighth, the southpaw wouldn’t be around to pitch that frame.
After Brett Martin, on the mound for the Rangers in the seventh, had retired the A’s in order, Irvin’s replacement by Sergio Romo was announced. Irvin had completed seven full innings, allowing two runs, both earned, on six hits and a walk. He struck out eight and threw 67 of his 93 pitches for strikes. He lowered his ERA to 4.04.
Romo did not perform his task as set up man well. After retiring Kiner-Fanefa on a hard hit ground to Harrison, who had replaced Chapman at the hot corner in the top of the fifth, he allowed a single to left by García and an egregious four bagger, also to left, by Peters.
There’s a world of difference between a 6-2 lead and one of 6-4. That lead shrank to 6-5 after Nate Lowe walked and stole second without a second glance from Romo, scoring on Yohel Pozo’s no doubt about it double to center. That was it for Romo.
Andrew Chafin, who’s been invaluable recently, came in to put out the fire, even though the Rangers had no one except Lowe in their line up who wasn’t either a right handed or hitter. Chafin got a quick two strikes on Heim before yielding a 477 foot gut wrenching round tripper that gave Texas its first lead of the afternoon.
Spencer Patton now entered the game as the Texas set man. Kemp greeted him with a safety to right center, but he was erased when Gomes hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
Yusmeiro Petit had to hold the Rangers scoreless in the top of the ninth if the A’s weren’t going to blow another large late inning lead. Leody Taveras had something else in mind. He blasted Petit’s first offering over the Stream Your A’s sign in left center for only his third homer of the year.
The Athletics now were trailing 8-6. Enter Joe Barlow, looking for his fifth save of 2021. Lowrie pinch hit for Davis and grounded out to short. Pinder flew out to center. Seth Brown, recalled from Las Vegas a couple of days ago, pinch hit for Andrus and lined a two strike single to right center, which brought up Harrison as the potential tying run. Brown took second on a wild pitch.
Then Harrison lifted a fly ball that looked like it would fall between García in right and Taveras in center. But García made an tumbling athletic catch to seal the Athletics’ fate for the date and cast more doubt on their fate for the season. Martin got the win for his one inning of work. He’s now 4-4, 3.38. Barlow got that fifth save he was looking for, and Chafin got tagged with the loss, his third, which was also his third blown save.
The rubber match of this three game series is scheduled for 1:07 Sunday afternoon, with James Kaprielian (7-4, 3.81) going against Taylor Hearn (5-4, 3.95). Then the A’s will hit the road, returning on the 20th to face Seattle.