Rapid Reaction: A's 9, Rangers 3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Martin Perez couldn't make it out of the first inning, the Texas Rangers fell behind early and could not catch up in an 9-3 loss to the Oakland A's. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers have lost two straight and the magic number remains at five to clinch the AL West. The A's close to three games behind the Rangers with one game remaining in the series. ... The Yankees won earlier Wednesday, making them just one game back of Texas for the best record in the AL.
Rough first: Perez gave up five runs on six hits and could only get two outs before he was taken out by manager Ron Washington. He left too many pitches up and didn't get much help from his outfield. Perez threw just 24 pitches in his outing. It was the shortest outing by a Rangers starter since Derek Holland lasted just two-thirds of an inning on July 2, 2011.
Outfield issues: It was not a good first inning for the Rangers outfielders Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. Cruz misjudged a fly ball off the bat of Stephen Drew (an 0-2 pitch, in fact) and watched it short-hop the wall over his head for a double. Hamilton charged a single by Josh Donaldson and it bounced right by his glove, nearly rolling to the wall. It was scored a single and a two-base error and it allowed two runs to score. Two batters later, Hamilton didn't take the proper route to a fly ball and it went over his glove for a triple, scoring another run.
Oswalt pitches well: Roy Oswalt made a case to start Monday's game, when the fifth starter spot will be needed again (as long as he feels up to going four innings or so). He pitched 1 1/3 innings and after allowing two hits, was able to bear down and get three strikeouts to keep the A's off the board.
Chipping away: The Rangers immediately began to eat away at the A's 5-0 lead after the first. Texas got one run back in the bottom half of the inning, when Elvis Andrus hit a double off the Southwest Airlines sign in left-center to score Ian Kinsler. ... In the second, Texas loaded the bases as the Nos. 6-8 hitters got on (two singles and a walk by Mike Napoli). Mitch Moreland hit a ground ball to second and Napoli made a nice slide to help break up the double play attempt. The Rangers got a sacrifice fly from Andrus to close the gap to 5-3. But that's as close as the Rangers got.
Patience: Kinsler showed plenty of patience in his first two at-bats. He drew walks on both of them, but also fell behind in the count and worked starter Jarrod Parker for 17 pitches in those two walks. He added a third walk in the game in the ninth, seeing 10 pitches in that one.
Walk in the park: Wilmer Font walked the only two batters he faced in the third inning. One of those was Josh Reddick, who was in an 0-for-29 slump at the time. ... Tanner Scheppers came in after Font and, after striking out Derek Norris, walked Cliff Pennington before giving up a two-RBI single to Drew.
Eating up innings: After Washington used four pitchers in the first 3 2/3 innings, he asked Yoshinori Tateyama and Justin Grimm to go the rest of the way. Tateyama didn't give up a run in 2 1/3 innings and Grimm allowed one -- with two outs in the ninth.
Middle of the order: The Nos. 3-5 hitters did very little for the Rangers on Wednesday. The only one of the trio with a hit was Adrian Beltre, who singled with two outs in the fifth. Hamilton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Cruz had a walk and was 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
RISP issues: The Rangers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They are 3-for-20 with RISP in this series. They were on a 1-for-25 streak before that as well.
Up next: LHP Matt Harrison takes the mound in an attempt to split the series and reduce the magic number to three. LHP Travis Blackley toes the rubber for the A's. The game is at 1:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 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.