Oakland A’s pitcher Chris Bassitt throws against the Texas Rangers line up in the first inning on Fri Aug 6, 2021 at the Oakland Coliseum (AP News photo)
Texas 1 – 6 – 0
Oakland 4 -4 – 0 (11 innings)
By Lewis Rubman
Friday August 6, 2021
OAKLAND–The big news from the Athletics today came before the game began. Ramón Laureano received an 80 game suspension .after testing positive for the performance enhancer Nandrolone. The team released a statement by their spirited and now sidelined outfielder in which he said, “I would never knowingly ingest any banned substance and put the game that I’ve loved all my life at risk. When I found out that I tested positive for nandrolone, I was shocked. I take great care of my body and have an extremely regimented diet. Based on the minuscule amount that was briefly in my body, I’ve learned that it is likely that it was a contamination of something I ingested.” Nandrolone is found in pork.
Oakland’s recent acquisition of Starling Marte couldn’t have come at a better time.
News of Laureano’s suspension came on the heels of another, more serious medical development. Ray Fosse, the A’s highly respected radio and television analyst, revealed today that he was taking a leave of absence in order to continue his 16 year battle with cancer, a battle that he and his wife, Carol, had been waging silently. He expressed their “gratitude to the baseball community, and community at large, for your thoughts and prayers.” I’m sure we all are pulling for Ray and his family.
The nature of Fosse’s announcement puts matters like Laureano’s troubles in a sobering perspective.
Leaving aside the big picture, in which Fosse’s announcement makes the Laurano situation insignificant, it might seem that, even from a purely baseball perspective. the news about Laureano, while boding ill for the Athletics’ pennant chances, would have little effect on tonight’s meeting with the Texas Rangers, but don’t let the visitors’ game time won-lost record of 39-70 fool you. Playing against them is no walk in the park for this year’s A’s. The teams are 5-5 against each other since opening day.
They also have split their three series against each other this season; each of them has won a series, and the remaining one was a tie. The Rangers have beaten the A’s in seven of their last 13 encounters and emerged victorious in two of their last three games at the Coliseum.
It’s easy to sneer at Ranger starter Mike Foltynewicz’s record of 2-10 ERA 6.00 going into the game, but one of those wins was against Oakland, coming on June 29 at the Nimitz Freeway funhouse, where he held his hosts to two runs on four hits in seven innings of masterful hurling.
Tonight’s game pitted him against Chris Bassitt, the A’s all star right hander, who brought an 11-3, 3.28 record with him to the mound. The result was a nail bitter that took three and a half hours and eleven innings before Oakland, out hit by six to four achieved a 4-1 triumph.
It started out, as most nail bitters do, as a pitcher’s duel. Foltynewicz held the A’s hitless over the first three innnings he pitched, although he allowed one base runner in that period, hitting Elvis Andrus with one down in the bottom of the third. Matt Olson put an end to that dominance by leading off the fourth with an aiutomatic double to right. Jed Lowrie filled the void behind Olson by walking. A full count walk to Sean Murphy loaded the bases with no outs, bringing up Mitch Moreland.
He bounced into a crisp 4-6-3 double play, sending Olson home with the game’s first tally and sending Lowrie to third. Harrison send Foltynewicz’s second offering to the deep center field, where DJ Peterss corralled it for the third ut. Not quite the Curse of the Lead Off Double, but another example of the A’s difficulty in scoring with RISP.
The Rangers didn’t score against Bassitt for four and a half frames, but they did rough him up a bit. They suffered the Curse of the Lead Off Double in the first and hit a pair of safeties in the third.
A one out double by Curtis Terry, followed by a two out single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa put an end to Oakland’s brief and slender lead. Bassitt got out of the inning when Kiner-Falefa, who had taken second on the throw, tried to steal third and was thrown out by Murphy.
Bassitt had put a half a dozen Rangers down on strikes by then. He would end up striking out eight by the time he left after pitching seven full frames and yielding one run, earned, on five hits. He didn’t walk anyone. 66 of his 94 pitches were strikes.
Foltynewicz left the game at the start of the home seventh. He had held the A’s to a single run, which was earned, one two hits, one of them a bunt single by Marte, three walks, and two hit batters. He threw 93 pitches, 52 of them considered strikes. His replacement was Brett Martin, who, after a perfect seventh, was replaced, in turn, by Joe Barlow.
Sergio Romo served as the A’s set up man and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Closer Lou Trivino entered the fray with the score still tied at one in the top of the ninth. Texas almost got a foot in the door with one out when Andrus’s throw on a grounder by Adolis García pulled Olson off the bag and Chris Guccione called him safe at first, a decision that was overturned on video review.
The Rangers proceeded to get two feet in the door when Nathaniel Lowe singled toright and Charlie Ciulberson, pinch running for him, stole second. But Trivino wiggled out of the jam by getting Jonah Heim to pop out to Chapman.
Oakland came to bat in the bottom of the ninth facing Danny Santana, who held them to a single, sending the game into extra innings.
Andrew Chafin took the mound for Oakland, and Heim took his position at second base as the zombie runner. He remained there while Chafin set down DJ Peters, Andy Ibánez, htting for Brock Holt, and Curtis Terry, who had scored the Rangers´s run that tied the game, in order.
Spencer Patton was tasked with shutting out the A’s, who started their half of the tenth with Gomes placed on second. He got Chapman on a fly to shallow right field. Tony Kemp batted for Andrus and flew into an 8-5 double play, another case of a mistaken Oakland baserunning decision.
So Yusmeiro Petit pitched the eleventh with Terry placed on second, where he remained while the veteran right hander mowed down Jonny Hernández, Kiner-Falefa,and Jason Martin.
It was Jimmy Herget facing the top of the order with Kemp on second in the Oakland eleventh. Canha tied the A’s team record for hit by pitches in a season when he was plunked for the 20th time to lead off the frame. Then Starling Marte sent us and the two runners home by blasting a definitve home run deep into the left field seats.
The win went to Petit, who now is 8-1, 2.91, and the loss fell to Jimmu Herget, 0-1, 6.00.
With tonight’s win and Houston’s 5-4 loss to Minnesota, the A’s now trail the Astros by three games in the AL West.
The A’s and Rangers will meet again Saturday afternoon at 1:07 with Cole Irvin on the mound for Oakland and Drew Anderson toeing the rubber for Texas.