Rapid Reaction: A's 3, Rangers 1
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers failed to complete the sweep as the Oakland A's took the final game of their four-game series 3-1 to close out the Rangers' 10-game homestand.
Despite taking the loss, Yu Darvish made a claim as to why he deserves All-Star consideration with a good performance. A 25th sellout crowd of 45,741 was on hand as the Rangers missed offensive opportunities.
Some thoughts on the game:
What it means: Texas ends a 10-game homestand with seven wins and has a 50-30 record on the season, still best in the majors. The Rangers hold a 5 1/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
Yu makes his pitch: As one of five candidates for the final spot on the AL's All-Star roster, Darvish made a solid case as to why he should be the Rangers' record eighth player in the 2012 All-Star game. He was perfect through three innings and had a shutout through four. He also pitched his way out of a jam in the sixth and allowed minimal damage. One of the few blemishes on Darvish's performance was a leadoff home run from Brandon Moss in the seventh inning to put the A's up 3-1. Darvish finished with 11 strikeouts over seven innings and allowed five hits, three earned runs and three walks.
Yu's Ks: Darvish matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts for the third time this season. It was his fifth game with 10 or more strikeouts, most in the AL and tied with R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets for the most in the majors.
Not so fast: Two of the first three Rangers to get hits in the first three innings were caught stealing. Elvis Andrus (first inning) and Yorvit Torrealba (third inning) were picked off after leading too far off first base and getting caught in rundowns. Andrus was caught again trying to stretch his RBI single to a double in the third inning.
Missed opportunities: The Rangers missed multiple chances to increase their early lead or tie the score later. In addition to the three runners lost, the Rangers failed to drive in Nelson Cruz after he hit a two-out double in the second. Craig Gentry hit a leadoff ground-rule double that was inches away from being a home run in the sixth, but he never reached home thanks to three fly outs from the top of the lineup.
Almost deja-vu: The A's almost saw a flashback of Friday night's eighth-inning collapse. Grant Balfour, who allowed the four-run inning Friday, was on the mound for the A's. Torrealba got a leadoff single and was moved over when Ian Kinsler reached first on an error by third baseman Brandon Inge with one out. But Balfour got Andrus fly out, then Jerry Blevins relieved and induced Josh Hamilton to pop out and end the threat.
Strikeout All-Star: Starting All-Star catcher Mike Napoli, who was playing first, extended his streak to 12 games with at least one strikeout. He waved at strike three for the second out in a 1-2-3 fifth inning and again with Cruz on first base to close out the seventh.
They say it's your birthday: Cruz went 2-for-4 with a double on his 32nd birthday. He has made a habit out of playing well on his birthday, going 5-for-12 in his career. On his birthday last year he went 2-for-5 with a home run, a triple and six RBIs.
Up next: The Rangers have an off-day Monday before they travel to Chicago for a three-game series with the White Sox. Here are the probable starters for the series:
Tue. at CWS: RHP Roy Oswalt (2-0, 4.26) vs. LHP Chris Sale (9-2, 2.27), 7:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.
Wed. at CWS: RHP Scott Feldman (2-6, 6.13) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.50), 6:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW/ESPN.
Thu. at CWS: LHP Matt Harrison (11-3, 3.16) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (3-1, 2.19), 1:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.