Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Game thoughts: Rangers fall in 13th
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON -- The A's managed to pull out a 7-6 victory in 13 innings in a back-and-forth game. It was the Rangers' longest game by innings this season. The win pulls the A's even with the Rangers for first place in the AL West. Some thoughts below (and you can click here for a replay of Tuesday's in-game chat).
* Leadoff walks are big trouble. Just ask Dustin Nippert. He walked Landon Powell to start the 13th inning and Powell stole second (on a missed bunt and run by Rajai Davis and a high throw by Matt Treanor). He went to third on a ground ball and scored on Daric Barton's single.
* The Rangers kept the game alive twice when down to their final strike. In the 11th, OF Julio Borbon got just enough of a Tyson Ross' 3-2 pitch to loop it to left field and score David Murphy. Elvis Andrus did it in the ninth, hitting a 2-2 95 mph fastball from A's closer Andrew Bailey to single to score Borbon from third. It was a rare blown save for Bailey, his first since June 16, 2009. It ended a streak of 27 consecutive saves, the second-longest in the majors.
* Andrus' hit came after the Rangers couldn't hold a 4-3 lead in the ninth. Darren Oliver started the ninth (after pitching a perfect eighth) with Neftali Feliz warming in the pen. The first batter, Eric Chavez, got on via an Andrus error (he couldn't get a handle on the ball after he made a nice play to get to it). A single moved pinch-runner Gabe Gross to third (the Rangers were able to get the runner as he took to far of a turn at first). Feliz then came in with one out and a runner at third. Feliz hit Jake Fox (just 3-for-25 against right-handed pitchers) on an 0-1 pitch and that was followed by a single by Landon Powell to tie the score. Another single by Cliff Pennington gave the A's the lead. Feliz just wasn't his normally dominant self on Tuesday.
* Rangers third base coach Dave Anderson tried to end the game in the 12th. He waved home Andres Blanco with two outs. Blanco was thrown out easily trying to score from first on a single by Ian Kinsler. Anderson certainly took a big risk, especially with David Murphy (who is swinging a hot bat) on deck. But with two outs, that's the time to take a chance. Anderson made the A's make the right throws, and they did. What did you think of that call?
* RHP Chris Ray gave up a two-out solo homer to Daric Barton in the 11th to give the A's the lead. The Rangers' bullpen has given up 16 homers this season. Coming into Tuesday's game, the bullpen was tied for the second most allowed in the AL this season.
* OF Josh Hamilton crushed one to right-center field to give the Rangers the lead in the bottom of the eighth. The key to the inning was that Michael Young was hit in the leg with one out. That put the go-ahead run at the plate in the form of Hamilton. The slugger hit an off-speed pitch over the wall. It was an estimated 438 feet and there was absolutely no doubt about it.
* RHP Colby Lewis had another quality start, his fourth of the season and third consecutive. He left after seven innings with the Rangers down 3-2. He got the first 12 batters he faced in order and then gave up a two-run, wind-aided homer to Eric Chavez in the fifth to tie the score. The A's got the go-ahead run on a fly ball to right that David Murphy misplayed. But Lewis did the job. He has been a solid starter for the club this season, showing excellent control.
* OF David Murphy is sure going to make it tough on the Rangers to get him out of the lineup when Nelson Cruz comes back, probably Friday. He was 8-for-17 (.471) with four doubles, four RBIs and three runs in the sweep of the Royals. He continued his hot streak on Tuesday, with a homer to right in the fourth inning. No doubt he was helped by the jet stream (at first I thought it was a routine fly ball). But he's swinging the bat very well right now and again helped his team.
* Murphy did have trouble in right field in the seventh. He misjudged a fly ball from Eric Patterson and it got past him, giving Patterson a triple and scoring the go-ahead run for the A's. It looked like Murphy didn't take a deep enough route as the ball just carried more in the jet stream than he thought. But he made up for that with his bat and a great diving catch to get the first out of the 12th (Kevin Kouzmanoff). In his defense, the wind looked very difficult to deal with out there.
* Andrus managed to get a bunt down on an 0-2 count in the fifth to move runners to second and third. You don't normally see 0-2 bunts, especially out of leadoff hitters. I know some of you in the in-game chat thought Andrus should have been swinging since he's tough to double up. What do you think? The Rangers ended up not getting any runs in the inning despite the bunt.