by Charlie O. Mallonee
Major League Baseball teams are totally unequipped to play doubleheaders in this new century. The doubleheader used to be a mainstay of the annual baseball schedule. My late father and I would deliberately plan to attend Cincinnati Reds games when doubleheaders were on the schedule. You bought one ticket and got to watch two games.
Then a few years ago, some bean counter in a Major League team’s front office figured out that his/her team was losing money by allowing fans to see two games for the price of one, and the traditional doubleheader died a sudden death. The era of the day-night doubleheader was born in order to squeeze every dime out the fans that can be had by every team in both leagues.
On Saturday, the A’s and Texas Rangers played a day-night doubleheader. The teams were rained out on April 13 and had a game to make up, so Saturday became the day the teams would play two games. It was the first doubleheader to be played in Arlington, Texas since September 30, 2012.
If you are the A’s, you hope for a sweep, will settle for a split and fear a being swept. Unfortunately for the Athletics, their worst fears came true on Saturday.
LHP Joe Palumbo made his Major League debut in the first game of the doubleheader. The A’s sent RHP Paul Blackburn to the hill for his first start of the 2019 season.
The Rangers jumped on Blackburn in the bottom of the first scoring three runs and taking a lead they would never give up. Texas put two more runs up on the board in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead over the A’s.
Oakland mounted a comeback in the fourth inning when Matt Olson hit his eighth home run of the season with Khris Davis on base. Later, Josh Phegley hit a double to drive in Chad Pinder and Ramon Laureano. The score was 5-4 with Texas leading as the game went the bottom of the fourth.
Texas put up another run on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning when Elvis Andrus hit his 12th double of the year driving Shin-Soo Chin home to score to give the Rangers a 6-4 lead.
The Rangers added four more runs in the home half of the fifth inning. The big blow came when Tim Federowicz hit a three-run home run that made the score 10-4 in favor of Texas.
Oakland would score one more time when Josh Phegley hit his eighth home run of the season over the left field wall. The score at that point was Texas 10, Oakland 5 which would ultimately be the final score.
Jeffery Springs (4-1) who came on in the fifth inning to relieve Palumbo was credited with the win. He pitched 3.0-innings giving up one run (earned) off two hits. Blackburn (0-1) took the loss for Oakland.
If you hung around for game two, you are a true fan. The twin bill took over 10 hours to complete because the stadium had to be emptied before the ticket holders for game two were allowed to reenter. They did have a nice crowd of 39,514 on hand as the Rangers retired Adrian Beltre’s number 29 before the game began.
The A’s drew first blood in the game when Mark Canha hit his 10th homer of the season off Adrian Sampson into left-center field in the top of the fourth inning. It would be the only run the A’s would score in the contest.
Texas put their first runs in the scorebook in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jeff Mathis hit a single to left that sent Danny Santana home and Ronald Guzman to second. Delino DeShields then hit a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Ronald Guzman to score. After five complete innings, Texas held a 2-1 lead.
The Rangers would score again in the bottom of the sixth inning. Danny Santana hit his second triple of the year driving Rougned Odor home to score the third and final run of the game for Texas. That was all the scoring the Rangers would need as they would win the game 3-1.
Adrian Sampson (5-3) was the winning pitcher as he won his first complete game in his major league career. Sampson gave up one run (earned) off four hits. He struck out seven while issuing only one walk.
Chris Bassitt (3-2) was hung with the loss. Bassitt gave up three runs (all earned) on five hits. He struck out five Rangers and walked two.
The four-game series wraps up on Sunday at 12:05 PM PDT. The A’s will send Frankie Montas (7-2, 2.83) to the mound to stop the two-game losing streak. The Rangers will counter with Drew Smyly (1-4, 7.93). On paper, it would the advantage would go to the A’s.