photo from sfgate.com: Oakland Athletics’ Marcus Semien (10) celebrates with Matt Olson, right, after hitting a home run against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Oakland, Calif.
Texas: 3 | 8 | 2
Oakland: 12 | 14 | 0
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND — Before today, the only time the A’s had faced Brad Burke, tonight’s starter for the Rangers, was last week in Arlington on Friday 13th. It was an unlucky day for Texas, who lost the game, 14-9, and the left handed rookie, who was lifted after six innings of work with his team leading 7-6. In his brief stint on the mound, all of the six runs scored against him were earned, coming on six hits, three of which were home runs.
Nonetheless, Burke is a promising youngster. He came to Texas in the three way trade between the A’s, Rangers, and Rays that brought Jurickson Profar to Oakland this past off season. Before that, he had been in the Tampa Bay organization, where he was the 2018 pitcher of the year, with a combined record in advanced-A and double-A of 6-2, 3.08 ERA. It’s noteworthy that his numbers were better in the higher classification. His main pitch is the four-seam fastball, which he mixes with curves, sinkers, change ups, and the very occasional slider.
His opposite number tonight was Sean Manaea, whose long awaited return from shoulder surgery and its consequent rehab assignments he celebrated with a 2-0, 0.50 ERA record in his three starts. One of those was on the road against Texas, where he threw six innings of three hit shutout ball, chalking up three strike outs in the process. That was a week ago Sunday.
Manaea got off to a shaky start, but a timely double play and a running catch in right by Laureano with a runner on second got him out of trouble. Burke, on the other hand, had a nightmare of a first inning. Two-thirds of an inning, to be exact. The A’s batted around, with hits by Chapman, Olson, Laureano (a double) off Burke and by Phegley and Chapman off his replacement, Luke Farrell, bringing in seven runs, all charged to Burke. A wild throw to first by third baseman Danny Santana on what would have been a double play ground ball by Canha allowed runners to advance, but they would have scored any way. So, after one inning of play, Oakland was up by seven.
Manaea continued to be unsteady in the second frame, allowing two hits before the second out was made, but, once again he followed the Lefty Gomez plan for successful pitching, clean living (we assume) and a fast outfield, to escape unscathed.
There was no reason for Farrell, who had surrendered two hits and a walk in his one-third of an inning performance, to remain in the game, and he didn’t. Jonathan Hernández was didn’t fare any better. He gave up two hits and three walks and already had allowed two runs when he left with the bases loaded and two outs in the second. Adrian Sampson, the Rangers’ fourth pitcher in two innings, came in and struck out Chapman on a full count.
The Rangers’ third was notable for two spectacular defensive plays: Laureano’s diving, rolling over catch of Andrus’s fast falling foul in right and Chapman’s backhand grab in the shift of Willie Calhoun’s hard shot towards left and then his off balance throw to get him at first.
Sampson’s effective relief work restored a semblance of order, so when Shawn Kelliey replaced him to face the top of the A’s lineup in the bottom of the fifth, the score still was 9-0. That expectation lasted three pitches. On the fourth Semien blasted Kelley’s 80 mph offering into the left center field seats for his 35th home run of the year. Three men later, Canha made it 11-0 by going long for the twenty-sixth time of the season, slamming a 368-foot drive over the left field fence. Kelley finished the inning but gave way to Joe Palumbo, who pitched the home sixth without allowing anyone except Davis, who got to second on a throwing error by Odor, to reach base.
The top of the sixth finally saw the Rangers get on the board. Elvis Andrus led off with his 11th dinger, a no doubter to center. Danny Santana hit his 26th two outs later, a fly to left that narrowed the gap to 11-2. The long and short of it is that Rougned Odor then dropped a bunt down the third base line against the shift for a single, and JB Wendelken came in to relieve Manaea, who either was tiring or had lost his concentration. He had worked 5 2/3 innings, allowed two runs, both of which were earned, on six hits, two of them home runs. one walk, a wild pitch, and a hit batter. His ERA ballooned to 1.14. He would get the win.
Wendelken got his man, DeShields, out on a grounder to Neuse at second.
Joe Palumbo took care of the A’s with a scoreless bottom half of the sixth, and Jesús Luzardo answered the bell for the visitors’ seventh, punching out two of the four Rangers he faced. Of the remaining two, one walked, and the other flew out.
Ryan Bouchter took his turn on the mound for Oakland in the eighth and coughed up the Rangers’ third solo home run. It came from the bat of Nick Solak and ended up over the left field fence.
Jeffrey Springs was the last Texas pitcher the A’s had to face. They touched him for their 12th and final run, Phegley driving in Davis from third on a single to left.
Once Manaea had lost his touch, hitting was the story for the A’s. Semien went three for three; Chapman, two for four; Canha, two for four; and Neuse, three for four. Semien and Canha homered.
Daniel Mengden closed out the game, throwing a shut out ninth with the help of two splendiferous plays by Franklin Barreto at short.
Because Tampa Bay pulled another victory out of the jaws of defeat back in St. Petersberg, they stayed two games behind Oakland in the race for home field advantage. Cleveland’s loss to the Phillies dropped the tribe to a game behind the Rays in the battle for the second wild card slot. The A’s magic number dropped to six. The magic number to eliminate any threat from Cleveland now is five.
Tomorow will be September 22nd, an appropriate time for number 22 Ramón Laureano bobblehead day. Game time is 1:07 p.m.Tanner Roark will try continue the A’s winning ways, facing Lance Lynn, who will take the mound for the Rangers.
In a brief ceremony before tonight’s contest, the A’s inducted Rickey Henderson, Walter Hass, Campy Campanaris, Vida Blue, Mark McGwire, and Tony LaRussa into the team’s Hall of Fame.