BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers split a pair of games this weekend after the scheduled game on Saturday was postponed due to rain. The games were almost identical in flow with strong bullpen and diligent offensive performances deciding each game.
The Rangers won on Sunday after trailing 7-2 going to the fifth inning. Ranger starting pitcher Adrian Sampson gave up single runs in the first, second and third innings. His outing turned into a disaster in the fourth inning after he retired the first two batters. A four pitch walk to Jurickson Profar started the downfall. Three singles and a double followed as the A’s score four times to take the 7-2 lead.
Texas had plated two runs on just one hit in the first inning. Delino DeShields led off and reached first base on a throwing error. Smoking hot Elvis Andrus followed with a triple and later stole home.
DeShields figured in the Rangers’ third run in the fifth inning as he doubled, stole third base and scored on a groundout to make the score 7-3.
The recently maligned Ranger bullpen put together five shutout innings after Sampson’s start. Jesse Chavez, Jeanmar Gomez, Jeffrey Springs and Jose LeClerc followed Sampson, with Gomez going two innings. Gomez struck out the side in the sixth inning to turn in his best performance of the year.
Andrus homered in the seventh inning to cut the A’s lead to three runs at 7-4.
That led to the dramatic eighth inning. A single, a forceout and a walk put Ranger base runners on first and second with one out. Asdrubal Cabrera singled home a run to make the score 7-5. Danny Santana was then summoned from the Ranger bench to pinch hit. Santana was taking his first Major League at-bat of the season after being called up Saturday, and he made the most of it. He tripled to tie the game at seven!
Jeff Mathis pop foul was the second out bringing DeShields to the plate. With a 1-1 count, DeShields dropped a bunt toward third base. Catcher Josh Phegley charged out to retrieve the bunted ball, but his throw to first base was late, and Santana scored from third on the play to give the Rangers the lead at 8-7, which was the final score after Jose Leclerc finished off Oakland in the ninth inning.
Springs was the winning pitcher. He’s 2-0. Leclerc earned his third save of the year. Joakim Soria (0-2) took the loss for Oakland.
The Rangers got off to the seemingly commanding lead in Friday night’s series opening game. The first two Ranger batters of the game, Shin-Soo Choo and Logan Forsythe, each doubled. Forsythe later scored to give Texas a 2-0 lead.
Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the fourth inning, a solo shot that pushed the Rangers’ lead to 3-1. Andrus seemingly put the game away with a three run home run in the fifth inning to make the score 6-1.
Drew Smyly was the Ranger starting pitcher and the good Ranger story of the game. He came into Friday night’s tilt with the A’s with an 0-1 record and 7.11 ERA in his first two starts in which he totaled just 6-1/3rd innings. On Friday night though; he was dominant for five innings. He allowed one run on three hits, striking out five and walking no one to become the first Ranger starting pitcher not named Mike Minor or Lance Lynn to complete five innings.
Ranger manager Chris Woodward should have taken five strong innings and called it a night, but he chose to run Smyly out to the mound in the sixth, and his outing fell apart. Phegley singled leading off the inning, and Smyly walked the next two batters to end his night on the mound.
Those three base runners scored to ruin Smyly’s stat line on the night. Chavez relieved, and the first two batters he faced singled and grounded into a run scoring fielder’s choice to clear the loaded bases Chavez inherited. Chavez then gave up a double to score the runner he’d put on base to bring the A’s to within a run at 6-5.
Oakland tied the game in the seventh inning with Ramon Laureano’s home run off Shawn Kelley and took the lead in the eighth inning with Khris Davis’s home run off Chris Martin. Oakland added an insurance run in the ninth to make the final score 8-6.
Davis is a noted Ranger killer. His home run Friday was his 10th of this young season, clearly leading the Major Leagues, and it was Davis’s 29th career home run against the Rangers.
The Rangers are still at .500 at 7-7 in the third week of the season, and still in last place as the other four teams in the American League West have records over .500. They open a three game series Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels. Shelby Miler (0-1), Mike Minor (1-1) and Lance Lynn (1-1) are the announced pitchers for Texas.
ROSTER MOVES: Rougned Odor “tweaked” his right knee during Friday’s batting practice and was scratched from the Rangers’ starting lineup prior to the game. On Saturday, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a sprained knee, and infielder Danny Santana was summoned from AAA Nashville to take his place on the active roster. Edinson Volquez was moved from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to make room on the 40-man roster for Santana. Volquez did not have an MRI this past week as originally planned. He reports feeling much better, so the prognosis is to shut him down from throwing for six weeks, and see how he feels. Since he was going to be shut down for six weeks, it was decided to hold off on the MRI to give the swelling more time to subside.
* Elvis Andrus is clearly the hottest Ranger at the plate. He had three hits Sunday and was a double shy of hitting for the cycle. That brought his batting average up to .414. He has 24 hits in 14 games.
* Jurickson Profar, a former Ranger and a fan favorite among many Arlington fans, made his first appearance this weekend as a Ranger opponent. He played second base for Oakland and went 2-6 at the plate with one RBI. A good performance, but overall he’s off to a slow start hitting only .191 after Sunday’s game.