Graveman flirts with a “no-no” as A’s beat the Rangers 6-1 in Texas

by Charlie O. Mallonee

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers
Kendall Graveman worked seven strong innings versus the Rangers on Saturday Photo USA Today Sports

Pitchers are supposed to need two to three starts before really being ready for the long regular season that is Major League Baseball. Someone forgot to tell that to A’s starter Kendall Graveman.

Graveman won his second game of the young season on Saturday night as the Athletics beat the Texas Rangers in Arlington 6-1. Graveman carried a no-hitter through 6.2-innings. The A’s righty lost his no-hit bid when Mike Napoli hit a sinker over the center field wall for a two-out home run. Graveman finished the inning after giving up a single to Rougned Odor – he induced Jonathon Lucroy to line out for the third out.

Graveman went 7.0-innings giving up one run (earned) on two hits. He struck out five and walked one. Graveman threw 85 pitches (58 strikes).

The Oakland bullpen did its job to perfection on Saturday night as well. Santiago Casilla came in and worked a perfect eighth inning that included one strike out. Ryan Madson took the mound in the ninth in a non-save situation and put nothing but zeros in book except for two strikeouts.

With Sonny Gray still on the sidelines, having Graveman (2-0, 2.08) perform this well in the number one spot in the rotation had to be encouraging to the Athletics coaching staff.

The A’s scored all of their runs in the final four innings of the game. They scored one in the sixth, one in the seventh, three in the eight and an one insurance run in the top of the ninth inning.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers
Yonder Alonso celebrates his first home run of 2017 Photo: USA Today Sports

Yonder Alonso was the man of the hour for the A’s on Saturday night. He went 2-for-4 at the plate, scored two runs and drove in two runs. He moved up to third base on Mike Napoli’s throwing error in the seventh inning and scored on Rajai Davis’ sacrifice fly. Alonso scored his second run when he hit first home run of the season in the bottom of eighth inning with Jed Lowrie on base.

Jed Lowrie continues to be on fire at the plate for the A’s. He went 3-for-4 including a double on Saturday with one RBI and one run scored. Lowrie’s batting average now stands at an impressive .381.

Rajai Davis had what may have been a breakout game for him by going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Oakland scored their six runs on 10 hits. They left seven runners on base. The A’s were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers
Yu Darvish took the loss versus the A’s Photo: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Yu Darvish (0-1, 3.65) started his second game of the season and took the loss. Darvish worked 6.0-innings and gave up one run (earned) on four hits. He struck five A’s batters and walked three. Darvish threw 91 pitches (61 strikes).

The Rangers used a total of five pitchers in the game.

Texas left two men on base and went 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position. When you only have two base runners, your RISP numbers look really sad.

The rubber game of the series will be played on Sunday

Texas Manaea
Sean Manaea will take the hill for the A’s on Sunday in Texas

The A’s and Rangers will get underway at 12:05 p.m. on Sunday. Oakland’s LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 6.00) will go up against the Rangers’ LHP Martin Perez (0-1, 4.50).

Manaea worked 6.0-innings on Tuesday night versus the Angels giving up four runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out four. Manaea wound up with a no-decision in that game that A’s eventually lost.

The Rangers beat the A’s again, Sweep the Series

by Jerry Feitelberg

AP photo: Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish looks at the plate from the mound in the seventh had command over the Oakland A’s on Wednesday night at the Ball Park in Arlington

Arlington, Texas- The Texas Rangers, behind a terrific pitching performance by Yu Darvish and clutch hitting by Ian Desmond and Jonathan Lucroy, beat the A’s 6-2 to sweep the three-game series. Darvish earned his second win ever over the A’s. The A’s, in the past, owned Darvish. Darvish won his first start against the A’s in a rookie season and was 0-8 against them until Wednesday night. The A’s rookie lefty, Sean Manaea, pitched well for four innings. The Rangers scored twice in the fifth and three in the seventh. Manaea absorbed his eighth loss of the year. He went six-plus innings and allowed nine hits and five runs.

The A’s got off to a good start in the first inning. Coco Crisp hit a solo homer on just the second pitch of the game. It was his eleventh homer of the year. The Rangers tied the game in the bottom of then fourth when Jonathan Lucroy slammed a pitch into the left-field seats. Lucroy, an All-Star in Milwaukee, is thriving in Texas since his arrival at the trade deadline.  The game is even at one after four innings of play.

The A’s regained the lead in the fifth. Jake Smolinski hit his seventh homer of the year leading off the inning. The lead didn’t last long as the Rangers scored two in their half of the fifth. Ranger shortstop, Elvis Andrus, led off with a single. With one out, Delino DeShields doubled to put men on at second and third with one out. Ian Desmond followed with a single to put the Rangers in the lead 3-2.

The Rangers score three more in the seventh. Ian Desmond had a single with the bases loaded to drive in the Rangers’ fourth run. Carlos Beltran hit into a 4-2-3 double play. The A’s issued a free pass to Adrian Beltre to load the bases for the second time in the inning. Lucroy doubled down the right field line to drive in the final two runs of the game. The Ranger bullpen shut the A’s down in the eighth and ninth to secure the win for Texas.

Game Notes- The hitting stars for Texas were Jonathan Lucroy and Ian Desmond. Lucroy had a homer and double and knocked in three.Desmond had two singles, and he also had three ribbies.Yu Darvish improved to 4-3. Darvish pitched seven-plus innings and allowed eight hits and two runs.

The A’s have lost five straight and six of the last seven. The A’s were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and 2-for- 23 in the last two games. The A’s are now 52-69 and are seventeen games under .500.

The A’s made some roster moves Wednesday.The A’s called up Chad Pinder from Triple-A Nashville. Pinder can fill in at either shortstop or second base.  The A’s placedTyler Ladendorf on the 15-day DL with a sprained wrist and Jed Lowrie was moved to the 60-day DL.

The A’s are off on Thursday and will face the Chicago White Sox in Chicago for three games in Chicago.

Time of game was two hours and fifty-four minutes, and 26,743 people were on hand to see the Rangers complete the sweep.



Pinch Hitting Norris Propels A’s Victory Over Rangers 10-6

Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson, left, congratulates Derek Norris, right, after Norris hit a three-run home run off off Texas Rangers' Shawn Tolleson in the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Oakland Athletics’ Josh Donaldson, left, congratulates Derek Norris, right, after Norris hit a three-run home run off off Texas Rangers’ Shawn Tolleson in the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Kahlil Najar

OAKLAND – If the baseball world didn’t know that the A’s have a deep bench at the catcher position, they do now.

Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso went a combined 7 for 8 with 7 RBI and 7 hits to help propel the A’s (43-2) to a 10-6 victory over the Texas Rangers (35-36).

“It’s pretty amazing. It’s quiet a luxury. We have three guys that can start in a number of places,” said Melvin on the three catchers.

Norris, who came in for Jaso in the bottom of the sixth got his night started right when he launched a three run home run to left field off of Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson. Then in the eighth with Donaldson and Crisp aboard he hit a double that scored two more runs. Norris ended the night with two hits and five RBI off the bench.

Melvin praised Norris by saying, “He’s done it before coming off the bench. He has a knack. He’s ready for the situation. He knows how to pinch hit. You don’t play for a majority of the game and you end up with 5 RBI means you’re taking advantage of your opportunities.”

Texas pitch Yu Darvish (7-3) suffered his third loss of the year and is now 1-8 against the A’s lifetime.

“His stuff is so good and on top of that he has seven different pitches. We’ve been really fortunate, we’ve made him work and a few guys square him up and have some good numbers off of him. But he’s about as good as you get,” said Melvin.

Vogt, who went 3 for 3 off of Darvish said, “I saw him pretty well today, fortunately saw three pitches to hit and hit all three of them. He’s such a good pitcher and we’ve been fortunate enough to have success against him. I don’t have anything to explain that.”

On his night, Norris said “I’ve worked pretty hard on making my swing more consistent, just more level of a bat path, but ultimately trying to stay in the zone as long as I can with the bat. The longer you’re in the zone, the more chances you have of barreling the ball. So that’s my main goal, and I’ve worked hard on it. It’s paying off.”

Tommy Milone (5-3) who started the game for the A’s had a decent night as he went 5 2/3 innings with three strike outs and three runs. Milone’s nemesis has been the first inning this year and today was no different as he gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead off of a single from Adrian Beltre.

However in the bottom of the second the A’s had three runs cross the plate with two runs coming because of a single by Alberto Callaspo and single from Vogt. In the fourth, the A’s added to their lead when after two stolen bases by Eric Sogard, Coco Crisp was able to hit a sac fly to bring Sogard home and make it a 4-1 Oakland lead.

In the top of the fifth, the Rangers Rougned Odor hit his third homer of the year and brought the score to 4-2. The A’s responded in the bottom of the inning with another RBI from Vogt to make bring the lead back to three and a 5-2 score.

The Rangers added a run in the top of the sixth and bring the lead back to two but then in the bottom of the sixth is when Norris came in. Norris knocked his pinch hit homer  and made it a 8-3 game.

The Rangers tried to make it interesting as they added three runs in the top of the 7th but in the bottom of the 8th, Norris came up to the plate and hit his eleventh double of the year to make it a 10-6 final.

“D-No is such a good baseball player,” said Vogt. “He’s having an All-Star caliber year, and I hope that gets recognized. What he’s done off the bench, just what I’ve been fortunate enough to witness, it’s incredible the way he comes in, he doesn’t get big, he doesn’t try to do too much and comes through all the time.”

The A’s and Rangers close out the series tomorrow when Sonny Gray (6-3) goes against Nick Tepsch (2-2), game time 12:35 pm PST.

Gray Dominates, Darvish Scuffles As Oakland Takes AL West Lead

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Monday, April 28, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Monday, April 28, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

By Matthew Harrington

All eyes were focused as two opposing aces took the hill Monday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington, with the visiting Oakland Athletics countering Texas Rangers star Yu Darvish with young phenom Sonny Gray in the battle for first place in the American League West. The A’s (16-10)proved victorious behind their young arm, securing a 4-0 decision to open up the three-game series against the 2010 World Series runner-ups and take their place atop the division standings.

For Darvish, a pattern of struggles against the A’s plagued the Japanese sensation once again in one of his worst starts since exploding on the Major League scene in 2012. His foe in green and gold produced an earmarked performance which, to date, goes down as Gray’s greatest outing in his blossoming career pegged for superstardom.

The Swinging A’s knocked Darvish around early, scoring four runs and knocking the Rangers All-Star out of the game after 3 1/3 innings. Darvish retired seven of the first eight batters he faced, but his lack of command of the strike zone forced him out of the game trailing 4-0 with 83 pitches thrown. Monday marked just the second time in 66 career starts Darvish failed to pitch through five innings, with his loss to Gray being the shortest appearance of his career. Darvish (1-1, 2.59) is now 1-7 against Oakland with a mortal ERA of 4.73 all-time.

Gray took the decision of who pitches the ninth inning out of manager Bob Melvin’s hands, pitching his first ever complete game. Rumors had swirled that Jim Johnson, relegated to middle relief after a pair of rough outings to open the season, may see a return to the closer’s role. The A’s starter ensured the speculation would continue on another day, finishing his masterpiece himself to open the three-game series in Texas. Gray needed 108 pitches, 73 for strikes, to dispatch the Rangers (15-11) handedly Monday night. Gray (4-1, 1.76) picked up six strikeouts with only one walk while allowing only three hits including a generous scoring decision on catcher Robinson Chirinos’ single in the sixth inning.

Athletics third basemen Josh Donaldson delivered the big blow of the day, ripping a two-run single with the bases loaded in the third for a 2-0 lead with one out. Catcher John Jaso greeted Darvish with a single to open the next inning before coming home on Josh Reddick’s line-drive triple to right in the following at-bat. First basemen Daric Barton scored Reddick with a sacrifice fly for the fourth and final A’s run. Darvish faced one more batter, walking Eric Sogard before turning the game over to Aaron Poreda. Poreda finished the inning before starter Nick Martinez came out of the bullpen to pitch the final five scoreless frames.

The Rangers best chance to touch Gray up for a run came in the sixth inning after Chironos reached first with one out on a play scored a hit after shortstop Jed Lowrie deflected the ball to Donaldson at third base. Chironos advanced to second on a wild pitch with Michael Choice at the plate. Choice lined out, but Chironos moved to third on another wild pitch with Elvis Andrus at the dish. Andrus grounded out to third to end the scoring threat.

The Rangers only other at-bat with a man in scoring position came with Leonys Martin at second base after a single and a Chirinos hit-by-pitch with one out in the bottom of the third. Gray induced a grounder from Choice on an 0-1 count that Lowrie scooped up at short, stepping on second base for the force out before firing the ball to first to complete the twin killing and escape unscathed.

The A’s continue game two of the three-game set Tuesday evening, sending Texas native Scott Kazmir to the mound looking to remain undefeated on the season and add to a now one-game division lead over the team in the opposing dugout. The Rangers counter with lefty Martin Perez, author of a three-hit complete game shutout of his own against Gray and the A’s at O.Co Coliseum last Wednesday.

Finishing Blow Elusive as A’s Strand 10 Against Darvish, Rangers

By Matthew Harrington

OAKLAND, Calif. –Few teams can say they own All-World talent Yu Darvish, staff ace for the Texas Rangers. The Oakland Athletics can stake claim to that distinction, sporting a 6-1 lifetime record against the Japanese import including a sterling 2-0 record against the international sensation at O.Co Coliseum. Though Darvish didn’t manage his first win in his career in the confines of Alameda County Monday evening, his Rangers outlasted the Oakland A’s (13-6), erasing a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 victory.

“It was a very competitive game,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “It was about as close as you can get. They had their ace on the mound. We had them on the run early but recovered well enough to keep him in the game and go to their key bullpen guys.”

Neal Cotts (1-1, 3.38 ERA) picked up the win in relief, Shin-Soo Choo homered for the Rangers (12-8) and former Oakland middle infielder Donnie Murphy singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to lead the Rangers to a come-from-behind triumph over the American League West leaders. Brandon Moss hit his fourth round tripper of the season and Coco Crisp moved into sole possession of fourth place on the A’s career stolen base list, swiping two bags to move past Carney Lansford with 147 pilferings in his time in green and gold.  Crisp also made an incredible leaping catch in center with his back to home plate, but came up lame clutching his ribs on a diving attempt later in the game.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” said Melvin. “It’s the second time he’s dove and knicked that area up a little bit.”

Dan Straily battled Darvish pitch-for-pitch before relinquishing a tied game to his bullpen in the sixth inning. Texas saddled reliever Sean Doolittle (0-1, 3.38 ERA) with the loss after the lefty struggled in the eighth to snuff out a Ranger rally. Jason Frasor, Cotts, Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria held the A’s scoreless over three innings of relief.

Choo greeted Straily with his 12th career leadoff homerun, launching a liner to right for his second long ball of the season and a 1-0 Rangers Lead. Choo later left the game in the seventh inning after suffering left leg tightness when he grounded out on a slow roller to third. Josh Donaldson barehanded the ball for the bang-bang play at first with Choo originally being called safe by first base umpire Adrian Johnson. Melvin challenged the play and, after the replay was reviewed, the call of safe on the field was overturned by crew chief Larry Vanover.

“I heard that he was out,” said Melvin. “Based on the replay I was seeing, I wasn’t sure about it. At that point in time I’m going to challenge it anyway. After the seventh inning the umpires get together, so that was one I would probably challenge either way.”

Moss answered Choo’s dinger with a solo shot of his own in the home half of second, depositing a Darvish delivery just inside the foul pole and beyond the fence. For Moss, the four-bagger marks his fourth of the season and fourth-career off Darvish. Moss accounts for 4 of 41 total career round-trippers for Darvish, nearly ten percent.

The Athletics rally continued when a two-out single to left by Crisp brought Josh Reddick and Eric Sogard around for a two-run edge. It would complete all the scoring Oakland mustered off Darvish, who saw his string of consecutive seven-plus innings starts snapped at three 2014 appearances.

“When he’s out there, we know it’s going to be a pretty low-scoring game,” said Donaldson of Darvish. “We jumped out pretty early. Early on he was coming at us, throwing harder. He ran it up to 96 (miles per hour) then once he got settled in, he started changing speeds which is what he does best.”

The 56-million-dollar man came into play Monday with a 0.82 ERA after allowing two runs in 22 innings on the campaign, but the A’s nearly doubled his ERA to a still-miniscule 1.61 with their three earned runs over six innings. Monday also marked the first time in nine-straight starts that an opposing team scored more than two runs on last season’s batting-average-against leader. Darvish collected six punch-outs in the no-decision, firing a laboring 116 pitches.

Texas cut the deficit in half off Straily after Prince Fielder opened the fourth inning with a double to the corner in left followed by a RBI single by Ex-Athletic Kevin Kouzmanoff. Straily settled down to retire the next three batters in order. Kouzmanoff, the reigning American League Player of the Week for his 10-for-29 performance with two home runs and eight RBIs, finished the day with two hits, an RBI and scored the game-winning run.

A two-out rally in the visiting portion of the fifth inning led to the game-tying run. Fielder hit the third of three consecutive singles to plate Elvis Andrus. Straily then threw a wild pitch to put Alex Rios, the second single of the trio, and Fielder in scoring position, but got Kouzmanoff to chase a 1-2 slider to end the inning and close the book on his day.

“He was spotty at times,” said Melvin on his starting pitcher. “He recovered nicely from the first batter in the game hitting a home run. He had two outs in the fifth and tried to finish that one off, couldn’t do it. At times I thought he threw the ball well, there were times he was maybe a little bit off his command.”

Straily’s pitching line including five innings of work with three runs, all earned on 84 pitches. He struck out six and walked only two but turned the game over to Ryan Cook with no chance at being named the winning pitcher.

“Tonight I was pretty proud of myself,” said Straily. “I never really felt like I was out of any at-bats except having to work my way back into it early. I don’t really feel too down on myself. My first-pitch command was just terrible tonight. That’s something you can’t have out there. I gave it everything I had, I just wasn’t able to get it done there in the fifth.”

Oakland looked poised to add a cushion to its lead after Daric Barton singled to center on a soft liner, marking the fourth-straight inning the A’s leadoff man reached base. Sogard bounced into the momentum-sapping double play but Crisp and catcher John Jaso reached base then stole third and second respectively with Jed Lowrie at the plate. Lowrie coaxed a two-out walk to load the bases for Josh Donaldson, but the “Bringer of Rain” continued an A’s drought with runners in scoring position on the night. Donaldson went around on a check-swing for the third strike on a ball low in the strike zone.

“It’s just one of those things,” said Donaldson. “He’s a good pitcher. He started to bear down on us a little bit. We came up there with the bases loaded and he came in there with a pretty good slider for strike three. The guy’s good. He’s not just your run-of –the-mill guy.”

Donaldson represented one one of seven A’s outs in 10 opportunities with runners on second or third. The A’s left 10 men on base Monday.

“The goal is to get guys on base,” said Donaldson. “We were able to do that. More times than not when we’re going to come through in those situations. Tonight was one of those days where it didn’t happen.”

Ryan Cook and Fernando Abad combined to pitch a scoreless inning apiece before turning the game over to heir-apparent to the closer role, Sean Doolittle, in the eighth inning. Doolittle recently received a five-year extension with the A’s that many suspect puts him in line to take over the ninth inning role at some point in his career. Oakland fans hope Monday doesn’t represent a harbinger of things to come from the bearded southpaw.

Texas opened Doolittle’s frame with Kouzmanoff rocketing a ball to right center that Reddick couldn’t snag on a leap at the wall. Designated hitter Mitch Moreland advanced Kouzmanoff to third on a sacrifice bunt then Kouzmanoff scored on a Murphy bouncer up the middle, the game-winning base knock. Doolittle got Leonys Martin to fly out for the second out before being lifted for Dan Otero. Otero finished off the inning, then pitched a scoreless ninth to keep Oakland within one.

“After they got the bunt down, I snuck one past Murphy,” said Doolittle. “I thought I was going to find a way to get him out. I was doing a good job of staying short. I thought I made a good pitch. The pitch to Kouzmanoff was not a good pitch. The pitch to Murphy was well-executed. He just did a good job of smoking it back up the middle.”

Rangers manager Ron Washington, a former infield coach with the A’s, called on his closer Soria to shut the door on the A’s in the ninth. Soria got Jaso to strike out for the fourth time Monday night before Lowrie reached base then advanced to second on an error at short by Andrus. Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes, who nearly tied the game on a deep drive in a pinch-hit pop-out in the seventh, lifted fly balls for the final two outs and Soria’s fourth save of the season.

“I thought when he hit it, it was out,” said Melvin of Cespedes’ loud out in the seventh. “I know on a cold night it’s difficult here, especially in the big part of the ball park. He hits one good and it normally goes out.”

The A’s will look to get on track again in Tuesday night’s tilt which will feature Tommy Milone opposing Rangers right-hander Nick Martinez before a finale between young pitching sensations Sonny Gray and Martin Perez Wednesday afternoon. The Rangers will look to hand Oakland its first loss of more than two runs this season.

Barton’s big blow opens floodgates against the Rangers

By Morris Phillips

Unlikely, and typical at the same time, the signature moment in the A’s 11-4 win over the Rangers Wednesday, of course, involved Daric Barton.

The Coliseum crowd’s reaction said it all as disbelieving cheers pervaded as Barton’s lofty drive approached the right center field wall.

Could the journeyman turn powerful, against Yu Darvish, one of baseball’s best pitchers? Barton’s major league career since 2010 had slowed to a crawl, much due to his inability to integrate extra-base pop into his otherwise solid, overall game. And the odds of Barton changing his portfolio against a top pitcher in one of the biggest moments of the season would have to be astronomical.

Given that backdrop, the home crowd chose to reserve judgment as Barton’s drive took flight. The A’s led 3-2 in a tense, series finale that would decide who would lead the AL West with 23 games remaining. Darvish had struggled to that point, allowing Brandon Moss’ two-run shot in the first inning and walking Albert Callaspo to lead off the sixth. The tall right hander had fussed with catcher A.J. Pierzynski earlier when his pitches started to miss their targets. Darvish’s 2-2 pitch to Barton offered an opening but surely not one that Barton would take advantage of.

“When we face a good pitcher, what were we going to do?” Brandon Moss would say after the game. “Were we going to be shut down, or were we going to do be able to score some runs? That’s been a question mark for us the last couple of years.”

But in recent weeks, the A’s have responded, beating Anibel Sanchez, Justin Verlander and David Price while taking wins leader Max Scherzer to the wire. Barton’s back and forth travels between Oakland and Sacramento removed him from much of the A’s transformation, but in a big spot against Darvish, he got his chance to impact his team’s fortunes in the biggest way.

Barton’s ball did clear the fence. And the A’s enjoyed a six-run sixth inning that blew the game open and tilted the tight divisional race towards Oakland. After winning 24 of 34—the best record in the majors over that span—Texas hasn’t been able to escape the A’s. What’s worse for the Rangers is the A’s have a kinder schedule down the stretch, with three games at Arlington standing as their only remaining games against a winning club.

Barton’s two-run shot gave the A’s 28 homers over the most previous 17 games further proof that Oakland has become the majors’ best at big swinging in the biggest moments. Rangers’ pitching allowed four homers on Wednesday showing that it wasn’t their day. But the A’s hit those Rangers’ pitches coming up big like Barton did in the sixth.

“It shows that we have a pretty good lineup on any given day,” Josh Donaldson said. “No matter who’s on the mound, we can put up some runs. This is a great time right now for our offense to get it going.”

Barton was with the A’s for just 67 games in 2011 and 46 games in 2012. During last season’s playoff push, Barton was relegated to the River Cats. After hitting .143 in May of this season, Barton was designated for assignment. In his seven-year career, Barton’s hit just 28 home runs and he seemed like the last guy manager Bob Melvin would feel comfortable with in a hot playoff race.

But since Josh Reddick went down, Barton has started at first base in seven of 10 games. His defense has been outstanding as always, but also his bat, hitting .320 in 25 at-bats.

On Thursday, the A’s welcome the Astros with a pitching matchup of Sonny Gray and Houston right hander Brad Peacock at 7:05pm.

Rangers beat the A’s, back in first place

by Jerry Feitelberg

The A’s squared off against the Texas Rangers Tuesday night at the Coliseum in the battle for first place in the AL West division.  Bartolo Colon was on the hill for the A’s but he did not go past the fifth inning again as the A’s lost to the Rangers 5-1. Colon’s record drops to 14-6 and  he has not won since late July. The Rangers’ starter, left-handed pitcher Martin Perez went 7 innings allowed eight hits but just one run in winning his 9th game of the year. The Rangers are now in first place and the A’s are just a game behind.  The game summary follows.

The A’s took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Coco Crisp doubled and then scored on a single by Yoenis Cespedes. The Rangers tied the score in the third on a home run off the bat of Mitch Moreland.

The Rangers scored three unearned runs in the fifth to take a 4-1. Bartolo  Colon was charged with an error when he couldn’t handle a ball hit right back to him. The Rangers then put together a double and two singles to put the three runs on the board.

The Rangers’ Alex Rios hit his fourteenth home run of the year  to start the eighth inning. Rangers now lead 5-1.

The A’s could do nothing against the Rangers bullpen and the final score was 5-1 in favor of Texas.

Game notes- Josh Donaldson made the defensive play of the year that will be a web gem for sure.

He made a great backhand catch of a foul ball while falling behind the tarp on the third base side of the diamond.  Bob Melvin said “you won’t see a better play than that.” Melvin also commented that he took Colon out of the game after five inning as “he had thrown 80 plus pitches and took a ball off his hand.” He didn’t think Texas knocked Colon around but Colon hit 92 MPH on the radar game just once or twice. Most of his pitches were 87-89 MPH.

The A’s lost for just the third time in their last eleven games and snapped a four game winning streak.

Yoenis Cespedes was 2 for 4 and it was his third straight two hit game. Michael Choice recorded his first Major League hit.

The A’s play the Rangers again Wednesday at 12:35. Sonny Gray will be pitching for the A’s hoping to get his third win of the season and he will be opposed by the Rangers ace, Yu Darvish who has a record of 12-6.

The A’s recalled left handed pitcher Tommy Milone from Single-A Stockton and right-handed pitcher Evan Scribner from Triple-A Sacramento. The A’s also selected right-handed pitcher Pat Neshek from Sacramento. To make room on the 40 man roster, the A’s designated lefty Hideki Okajima for assignment. Luke Montz , who was designated for assignment on Sunday, was released.


Attendance was 16,133