The Texas Rangers looked to complete a two-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics on a gorgeous Thursday afternoon in Arlington, Texas. But bullpen struggles from Alexi Ogando and Mike Adams let the A's come away with the victory.
Matt Harrison got off to a shaky start in the first, surrendering three runs off four hits and a walk. He would settle down somewhat and did not allow a run the rest of his time on the mound. He went 5 1/3 inning, giving up three runs on eight hits, striking out three and walking three.
The Rangers would power back to tie the game behind the bat of Mitch Moreland. Moreland knocked a two-run shot in the fourth to cut the deficit to 3-2, and followed that with a sixth inning solo shot to tie the game 3-3.
After Moreland's sixth inning homer, the Rangers would get some baserunners, and take the lead 4-3 when Craig Gentry scored on an Elvis Andrus bunt single. Brandon McCarthy appeared to catch the popped-up Andrus bunt, but it was ruled a trap by home plate umpire Laz Diaz. Bob Melvin came out to argue the call and was eventually ejected by Diaz.
The Rangers lead would be brief though, as Ogando would surrender his first home run of the season to Josh Reddick that tied the game 4-4.
The Rangers would threaten in the seventh after David Murphy slapped a leadoff single and stole second. But the Rangers could not score him. During that inning, Ron Washington elected to pinch-hit Brandon Snyder for Moreland. It was a call based on a righty/lefty matchup, but you have to question the decision to take out the day's hottest bat. But to Washington's defense, Snyder has been tearing the cover off the ball recently, especially against lefties, and had a pinch-hit home run Tuesday night against the Royals. Snyder would fly out to right though, so the move ultimately did not pay off.
Josh Hamilton would make a pinch-hit appearance to lead off the bottom of the eighth, but hit a hard grounder up the middle to shortstop Chad Pennington, who was shifted over.
The Rangers threatened again in the ninth after Michael Young reached base and advanced to second on an error. Young would advance to third on an Adrian Beltre groundout. The A's intentionally walked David Murphy and Nelson Cruz struck out swinging. After falling behind 3-0 to Mike Napoli, he was intentionally put on. And Snyder could not drive in the game-wining run. One has to wonder how the inning would have played out had Moreland remained in the game.
The A's quickly capitalized on the Rangers' lack of execution. Adams would pitch the tenth, but could not get out of the inning. After Jonny Gomes reached on a no-play dribbler that stayed fair down the third base line, Adams would get Sukuzi to pop out on a bunt attempt. But Adams then surrendered back-to-back singles, allowing the A's to take the lead 5-4.
Robbie Ross came in and snagged a line drive up the middle and doubled up the runner on first to end the Oakland threat and minimize the damage.
Hamilton would lead off the tenth and smoked a line drive directly at Pennington, who again was shifted up the middle. Ian Kinsler would reach on an infield single, but Andrus would strike out and Young would fly out to right to end the game.
For one of the few times this year, the Rangers bullpen let them down late in the game. Their collective line was 4 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. Not terrible numbers, and fans shouldn't be too concerned. Bullpens are not perfect, even our stellar one. They should easily put this behind them and continue to pitch as well as they have been. On a positive note from the bullpen, Joe Nathan, pitching his third day in a row, had a perfect ninth with one strikeout.