BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Oakland Athletics continued their playoff push by sweeping the three games series this weekend from the Texas Rangers.  Baseball fans 240 south of the Metroplex were rooting for the Rangers to assist their Astros toward the American League West championship, but the Rangers responded with no wins.  With the conclusion of this series, the Rangers are 21 games under .500 and a season high 28 games out of first place in the American League West.

Friday’s game was the only night game of the series.  Yovani Gallardo was the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  Gallardo has eight wins since joining the Rangers in mid-season, but he has been hit harder than his record would indicate.  That didn’t change Friday night.  Ramon Laureano touched Gallardo for a first inning home run for the early 1-0 Oakland lead.  Marcus Semien came up with a two run home run in the second, and before the inning ended, Matt Chapman singled with the bases loaded to drive in two more.  Texas was in a 5-0 hole when they came to bat in the third inning.

Joey Gallo homered with Elvis Andrus on base in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 5-2.

Gallardo got in trouble again in the fifth inning, but Connor Sadzeck relieved and bailed him out of any additional scoreboard damage.  Gallardo’s line on the night:  4-1/3rd innings pitched, five earned runs allowed on six hits, five walks and one hit batsman.  He faced 24 batters and 12 reached base.  He threw 101 pitches and took the loss to go to 8-4.

Adrian Sampson took the mound to start the sixth.  He didn’t finish it.  He retired just one batter, while allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits.  That pushed the A’s lead to 8-2.  Ronald Guzman doubled home a run in the seventh inning, and Gallo doubled home another in the eighth inning to make the final score 8-4.

Saturday afternoon, Yohander Mendez was the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  He admitted after the game that it was a struggle to spot all his pitches.  He lasted just four innings throwing 87 pitches.  Amazingly though, he allowed just one hit – a Khris Davis home following a walk in the first inning for a 2-0 Oakland lead.  It was Davis’s 41st home run of the season, 10 of which were hit against the Rangers.

Beltre halved the A’s lead with a second inning home run.  Nomar Mazara doubled home two more in the third inning to put the Rangers in the lead at 3-2, and Jurickson Profar hit his 16th home run of the season in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 4-2.

However, Martin Perez followed Mendez to the mound.  Perez was recently relegated to the bullpen for ineffectiveness as a starter.  He’s been just as ineffective if not more so as a reliever.  On Saturday, he gave up three runs on four hits in two innings, and Alex Claudio gave up another run to put the A’s ahead 6-4.

It was still 6-4 going to the eighth inning, but Beltre tied the game with a home run after Mazara had singled.  Chris Martin however could not keep the game tied.  He started on the mound in the eighth inning, giving up two more runs on three hits.

That made the score 8-6, which was the final after the Rangers went quietly in the ninth inning without putting a runner on base.  Martin is 1-4 with the loss.

The Rangers got off to a good start to salvaging a win and avoiding a sweep on Sunday afternoon.  Texas went with an “opener” to start the game – Jeffrey Springs.  He was so good that manager Jeff Banister left him in for three innings, in which he allowed just one hit and no runs.

Meanwhile, the offense staked the pitchers to a three run lead.  Mazara drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning.  Rougned Odor and Beltre hit run scoring singles in the third inning.

It was downhill for the Rangers after the third inning.  Primary pitcher Ariel Jurado took the mound in the fourth inning, but he didn’t last long.  He managed just two outs, while giving up five runs on four hits and two walks.

The Ranger offense failed to score the rest of the game, and the A’s added single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to win their fourth game in a row and get to within 2-1/2 games of the first place Astros.  Jurado is 2-5 with the loss and his ERA crept over 7.00 at 7.03.

The Rangers continue their West Coast swing in Anaheim for three games with the Angels.  The announced starting pitchers are Mike Minor on Monday night, Adrian Sampson on Tuesday night and Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday night.


*     Adrian Beltre had hits in all three games of the series, including a pair of home runs in Saturday’s game, the 33rd multi-home run game of his career.  He passed Paul Waner to take over 16th place on the all time hit list with 3,153, which is just one hit behind George Brett for 15th place.

*     Texas is 1-5-0 in the last six series and completed the season series against Oakland with a 6-13 record.

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