It was the second night the A’s were defeated by their division rivals. Two one-run games over the last two days have been hard to accept. Tonight, two late runs in the ninth gave the Texas Rangers a 5-4 win over Oakland.
“No doubt that’s been an issue for us,” said manager Bob Melvin. “We have to be able to add on some runs so we’re not getting late into games with giving teams a chance to score a couple of runs and beat us.”
A great defensive play to prevent the tying run in the ninth wasn’t enough to stop the Rangers aggressive play. Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland led off the ninth with a double. Robinson Chirinos sacrifice bunt moved Moreland to third and Leonys Martin reached first on a fielder’s choice, pitcher Luke Gregerson to catcher Derek Norris for the out at home.
With only one out in the ninth, Gregerson couldn’t stop Texas offense. While Josh Wilson was at-bat Martin stole second base. Wilson then doubled to left field and scored in Martin to tie the game 4-4. Former A’s player Michael Choice singled on a ground ball to center field giving Texas the lead back.
“To be able to come through in that situation was huge,” Choice said. “We’ve got a lot of fighters on this team. You just have to stay with it, get up there and make something happen.”
The Rangers have won seven of their last eight games and are now a game and a half behind Oakland for first place. The A’s lost their second straight game for the first time this season and was the only team in the majors to have not lost back-to-back games. Oakland has lost the series and will try to avoid the sweep today.
The A’s tied the game bottom of the first to backed Tommy Milone’s shaky start. Nick Martinez yielded a single and two doubles that led to two runs for Oakland. Josh Donaldson’s RBI single cut the lead in half and Yoenis Cespedes RBI double tied the game, turning this contest into a non-pitcher’s duel.
Milone struggled to pitch himself out of a jam in the first. Donnie Murphy singled on a soft ground ball to third base and scored in Choice. The bases stayed loaded for a second time and Milone walked in the next run after issuing a free pass to Chirinos for the quick 2-0 lead.
Texas added on another run in the third and the A’s again answered back with two runs bottom of the fourth to take the lead for the first time in the game. Eric Sogard sacrifice fly scored in the tying-run and Coco Crisp’s RBI double was deflected off Alex Rios glove to score in Josh Reddick for the 4-3 lead.
Yesterday Sean Doolittle was charged with the blown save and tonight it was Gregerson’s fault. The bullpen used to have a stellar reputation for closing out games but this year there have been some up hill battles, especially after Jim Johnson struggled at the start of the year. But Oakland will change nothing and stick with their closers as scheduled.
“It’s not easy, but it’s something that we have to do,” said Gregerson. “It’s something that if you don’t do, it’s going to carry over to the next and that’s not something you want.”