Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, A's 3
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Nelson Cruz and Jurickson Profar hit two-run homers, powering the Texas Rangers to an 8-3 victory Friday night over the Oakland A's in the opener of a three-game series at the O.co Coliseum. The surging Rangers sliced Oakland's lead in the American League West to 2 1/2 games and captured their fifth straight victory. The A's lost their third straight game.
Make some noise: Cruz was booed loudly by A's fans when he came to the plate in the second inning for his first at-bat. Cruz answered with a thunderous, two-run homer to center field over the 400-foot-mark. Cruz got ahead 2-0 in the count and lined Tommy Milone's 88 mph fastball for his 26th home run of the season.
Secret weapon: Profar weighs just 165 pounds and hit ninth in the order, but he muscled up and stunned the A's with a two-run homer to deep left in the fourth inning off Milone, extending the Rangers' lead to 6-2. Profar, a utilityman who started at DH on Friday night, hit his fourth home run of the season.
History lesson: Manager Ron Washington won his 581st game, tying Bobby Valentine for the most wins in Rangers history. His winning percentage of .537 (581-501) is the best in franchise history among managers with at least two full seasons.
Still streaking: Shortstop Elvis Andrus lined a single to left field in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the major leagues. He went 2-for-5 and scored two runs.
High pitch count, short outing: Right-hander Alexi Ogando made just his third start since coming off the disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation, but he struggled with his command early against an A's team known for its patience at the plate. Ogando allowed three runs and four hits over just four innings, his second-shortest outing of the season. He walked five, struck out one, threw 92 pitches -- 48 for strikes -- and received no decision.
Rough start: Ogando walked four batters in the first two innings and threw 60 pitches, exactly the type of high-stress start he needed to avoid after making two trips to the DL this season. Ogando retired the first two A's he faced then issued back-to-back walks to Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes, prompting a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux. Ogando got ahead of Brandon Moss 0-2, but Moss drilled a 1-2 changeup off the base of the left-field wall for a two-run double, giving Oakland a 2-0 lead.
What a relief: After Ogando's early exit, relievers Robbie Ross, Jason Frasor, Tanner Scheppers, Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria combined to blank the A's on three hits over the final five innings. Frasor, who threw 1 1/3 perfect innings, got the win.
Catching on: Leonys Martin hit leadoff for the fifth straight game, and he looked as if he's catching on to his new job. Leading off in the third inning, Martin worked a full count then drilled a single to center. He moved to second on an Andrus single, tagged up and advanced to third on Ian Kinsler's fly out to center and scored on Adrian Beltre's ground out, putting the Rangers ahead 3-2. In the fourth, Martin singled on a drag bunt, taking advantage of his blistering speed. He went 2-for-5 on the night.
Hit parade: The Rangers racked up 12 hits against the A's, including nine against Milone, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings and fell to 0-4 in five starts against Texas. Martin, Andrus, Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski each had two hits. Pierzynski also drove in three runs.
Up next: Right-hander Matt Garza (7-1, 2.92) gets the start Saturday for the Rangers against A's right-hander Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.07). Saturday's 3:05 p.m. game will be broadcast on Fox and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and ESPN Deportes 1540 AM.
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.