Rapid Reaction: A's 4, Rangers 3
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland A's scored four runs off Texas Rangers starter Martin Perez and that was enough in a 4-3 victory on Monday night. The A's, frankly, played better baseball in getting the win. They were aggressive on the bases and got some good bullpen work, doing the little things at home to secure the victory. The Oakland players streamed onto the field and celebrated a playoff berth. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The win clinches a playoff berth for the A's, their first since 2006 (when they won the AL West). ... Texas is now just one game up on Oakland. The Rangers need to win one of the last two games to clinch their third straight AL West title. ... The Rangers' loss means they are tied with the New York Yankees for the No. 1 seed in the AL, and the Yankees own the tiebreaker.
Rough first: Perez struggled from the moment he took the mound, falling behind hitters and giving up three hits, two walks and a balk in the first inning to allow two runs to score. ... Josh Reddick hit a 2-2 pitch up the middle, making a nice swing just to get the ball in play, and scored a run. ... Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases, and Perez balked to get the second run home. ... Perez threw 30 pitches and had three-ball counts on three batters.
Nervous balk? Perez balked because he stepped off the rubber with the wrong foot. That kind of mistake could certainly be a sign of nerves. He had already allowed a run and was trying to pitch out of a major two-out jam.
Up and down: Perez did manage to settle down after the first, getting 10 of his next 11 out, including three via strikeouts. But he gave up two straight doubles to start the fifth, giving the A's a 3-2 lead. At that point, he was out and Scott Feldman came in.
Close play at plate: Coco Crisp, who doubled off Perez to score Adam Rosales with Oakland's third run, stole third base while Feldman was on the mound. He then scored on a shallow sacrifice fly to center by pinch-hitter Brandon Moss. Hamilton came up firing and nearly got Crisp, who made a nice slide to get around catcher Mike Napoli for the fourth run of the game.
Homer drought ends: Michael Young ended a 21-game homerless drought, hitting a 2-0 fastball out the other way. It was just the 10th home run Jarrod Parker allowed this season (he was at 175 1/3 inning coming in). ... It seems like most of Young's eight homers have been big ones at important times.
Defensive gems: Young had a terrific all-around game. He made two good plays at third base to go along with his play at the plate. Young made a diving backhanded stop on Crisp's hot shot in the second and then charged a bouncer by the speedy Yoenis Cespedes and made a nice, running throw to get him.
Good eye, big bat: Napoli is certainly more comfortable at the plate these days. But that shows up not only in home runs, but in his ability to recognize strikes and balls. He fell behind 0-2, but ended up walking to lead off the third inning. He got to second on a wild pitch and scored on Elvis Andrus' single. ... But he also had a big blast, sending a solo shot over the wall in left-center in the seventh inning to make it a one-run game. It was his 24th homer of the season, and he has seven homers in 14 games since being activated from the DL.
Feldman in relief: Feldman came in for Perez and did a nice job. He gave up the sacrifice fly in the fifth but didn't allow anything else to cross the plate (and that run was charged to Perez). He left with two outs in the sixth, and Michael Kirkman got the final out to keep it a 4-2 game.
Wasted chance: The Rangers got the first two batters on in the third and had them at the corners with no outs but came up with just one run. The inning ended with a runner at third base after Josh Hamilton (strikeout) and Adrian Beltre (groundout) couldn't get him home.
Uehara's streak ends: A two-out single in the seventh by Moss ended Koji Uehara's streak of consecutive batters retired at 25. it was the first hit he allowed in his last 10 games. ... He has still retired 31 of his last 34 overall, 15 of those by strikeout. ... The last hit Uehara gave up before Monday was on Sept. 11.
Tidbits: The A's had 21,162 fans at Monday's game. That included a walk-up crowd of about 5,000. ... Hamilton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. ... Grant Balfour is 16-for-16 in save opportunities since returning to the closer role on Aug. 11.
Up next: LHP Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA) goes up against LHP Travis Blackley (5-4, 4.00 ERA) at 9:07 p.m. central time on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.
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