Expect the Expected, A’s Lose in Texas
By Sean Davis
I don’t know what to blame tonight’s loss on, was it the horrific inability of Tyson Ross to keep runs off the board, was it the refusal of the A’s to hit any home runs with runners on base, or maybe in the end it was Seth Smith‘s new found ability to swing at pitches that hit him. Tyson clearly did not read Devin Pangaro’s letter this afternoon, and he paid dearly. Tonight’s game was the exact type of game that makes me cringe every time I see “@ Texas Rangers” on the schedule for any period of time, let alone a 4 game series. I’ve lost count of how many times a lead has vaporized in one disastrous inning for the A’s over the years, and this counts the years that the Rangers were a cellar dweller who had no concept of what playing in October meant. The sickening inevitability of a Rangers comeback win is something that will haunt me constantly until my dying day. Enough with the melodrama though, the A’s did at least wake up with the bats tonight, probably because they were facing a starter who has as much business being in a Major League rotation as Tyson Ross does. A 4-1 lead turned into a 6-4 deficit, then a 7-4 deficit, then a 7-6 deficit, then ultimately a loss. Joe Nathan wobbled a bit in the 9th inning, but managed to buckle down when needed and prevent Seth Smith from making contact with the tying run at 3rd base with 1 out, then retired Brandon Inge for the 18th time in 19 at bats.
TURNING POINT: Technically it may have been in the 9th inning, but this W became an L in the bottom of the 5th inning. The Rangers didn’t waste any time starting their engines as Leodys Martin drew a walk, after a Martin steal Ian Kinsler moved him to 3rd with a single, then Elvis Andrus singled to drive in Martin. At that point it was curtains for Tyson Ross, but Jim Miller didn’t have any intention of stopping the bleeding. He walked Josh Hamilton to load the bases, then handed the tying run over with a walk to Adrian Beltre. Miller regained his composure enough to retire the next two batters, but David Murphy brought him back to reality with a 2 run single. After yet another walk Bob Melvin then decided he’d done enough damage and brought in Jordan Norberto to mercifully end the inning by striking out Leodys Martin in his second at bat that inning.
ON THE HILL: The A’s have really found themselves in a pickle with their starting rotation as thin as it is right now. Tyson Ross is living up to his 6.35 ERA (through today’s start), and his 5.27 FIP (prior to today’s start) supports his ineptitude. Today’s repulsive line looked like this: 4 innings, 8 hits, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Not exactly inspiring confidence. Jim Miller’s ineffective outing mostly hurt Tyson Ross, as he gave up 1 hit, 3 walks, and 1 ER in 0.2 innings. Jordan Norberto allowed 1 unearned run in 1.1 innings of work without allowing a hit, striking out 1, but he did issue 2 walks. Evan Scribner allowed 2 hits and retired 1 batter. Sean Doolittle pitched 1.2 innings and danced around 3 hits allowed with 1 strikeout.
AT THE PLATE: There’s much more to write about as far as the bats were concerned today. Josh Reddick hit his 18th home run of the year to start the scoring, then Derek Norris hit his 2nd, and Cliff Pennington hit his 3rd immediately after. Coco Crisp went 3-5 with 2 runs and a stolen base, Yoenis Cespedes had 3 hits of his own in 4 at bats with a walk and 2 RBI. On the downside Seth Smith went 0-4 with a RBI on a sac fly, but failed to make contact in the most crucial at bat of the night in the 9th inning when Joe Nathan struck him out. Jemile Weeks looks as much like an automatic out as we’ve seen recently, his 0-5 night made him the one starter who truly didn’t contribute to the A’s offense tonight.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s hard to ignore the apparent aura the Ballpark in Arlington has over opposing teams. Bad things always do seem to happen there, including as I noted on Twitter this evening the 2010 World Series win for the San Francisco Giants (worst night of my life). This was the most winnable of the series in my opinion, with Saturday’s game coming in a close second, and the Athletics simply couldn’t get it done. AJ Griffin will make his second start in the show after pitching 6 strong innings against the Giants in his debut, Matt Harrison will oppose him with a 10-3 record and an ERA of 3.24. I fear Griffin will become just another victim of the Rangers in their own domain, so the A’s will probably have to bring the lumber yet again for the A’s to have a fighting chance. But, as tonight showed a slugfest with the Rangers is often a losing proposition.
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