August 4, 2013
by Kahlil Najar and Emily Zahner
OAKLAND, CA — The Oakland Athletics (64-47) lost the rubber match against the Texas Rangers (62-50) on Sunday afternoon, shortening their American League West division lead to 2.5 games. Rangers’ starter Derek Holland (9-6) continued his dominance against Oakland, keeping the A’s bats quiet through his eight innings pitched, only allowing five hits and striking out 10; this was the third time this year Holland has fanned ten hitters. Through the first six, Holland had only allowed one hit and had already struck out seven, only surrendering a single up the middle to A’s first baseman Nate Freiman in the second. Holland, who recorded his first win since July 13th, is now 5-2 lifetime against the A’s.
“Holland pitched well. Probably the best we’ve seen him pitched in a while. They had a good zone for him and made the change up hard to deal with today ” A’s Manager Bob Melvin had to say on Holland. The game was a pitchers duel, as A’s starter A.J. Griffin (10-8) who was credited with his 8th loss of the season, performed well through six and two-thirds innings. Other than a few costly pitches to Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland, Griffin was able to keep the A’s in the game. He tallied 7 strikeouts, five hits and only one walk. “He kept us in the game and played well enough for us to win. We just didn’t give him enough offense.” said Melvin on Griffin’s performance. “We’ve been talking to him about the home runs and we’ve talked about it quite a bit. We’ll be working on it.”
After starting the game strong with two consecutive strikeouts, Griffin threw a four seam fastball to Ian Kinsler that should have been fielded easily by left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Whether credit be due to the sun or the impending wall behind him, Cespedes dropped the ball at the warning track and allowed Kinsler to land safely at second. Adrian Beltre then singled on a sharp line drive to left and Kinsler came in to score to make it a 1-0 lead. Nelson Cruz lead off the top of the second by hitting his 20th homer of the season off of Griffin to increase the lead to 2-0. Griffin leads the majors in surrendered home runs, with 28. After five innings of solid pitching by both pitchers, which saw 9 total strikeouts from both teams, Griffin gave up another deep home run to Mitch Moreland with Chris Gentry on first to bring the tally to 4-0 Texas.
The A’s had a chance to bring themselves back into the game in the bottom of the seventh when Nate Freiman and Chris Young hit back-to-back singles, bringing up Josh Reddick. Holland fooled him with a sinker that had him swinging wildly and quietly and efficiently killed the rally. All-Star closer Joe Nathan came in to relieve Holland in the bottom of the ninth and gave the A’s and their 23,263 fans in attendance a glimmer of hope. After giving up a lead off walk to Josh Donaldson and a hard hit single to Cespedes, Brandon Moss grounded into what should have been a double play, but was able to beat out the throw at first to keep runners at the corners. Alberto Callaspo then grounded into a game ending double play that silenced the crowd and gave the Rangers the series victory two games to one, ending the home-stand on a slightly sour note.
On the A’s offense, Melvin said, “We’re having a tough time putting two games in a row together. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut whether it be our defense, our pitching or offense. We haven’t been timely as that goes. The offense has stood out for quite a while now. We do have the guys with the ability to take care of that and we’re confident we will. We just need to sustain it. Not just one game here and one game there. We just need to get on a roll.”
The A’s hope to start that winning momentum when they head out on a seven game road trip Tuesday night in Cincinnati. The green and gold send Dan Straily (6-5, 4.41 ERA) to the mound against Reds ace Mat Latos (10-3, 3.38 ERA) at 4:10pm PST.