Saturday, September 10, 2011
Rapid reaction: A's 8, Rangers 7
By Jeff Caplan
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Alexi Ogando fought through early troubles and it appeared the Rangers had seized momentum Saturday rallying from a 3-0 hole to tie it at 3-3.
But, the bullpen couldn't do the job in a devastating sixth inning. Michael Gonzalez was one out from a brilliant appearance, getting the first two batters he faced with runners on first and second and no out, including a nifty fielding play to get the force out at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt. But, he walked the third batter to load the bases. That brought on Yoshinori Tateyami and an outing he will want to soon forget.
Pinch-hitter Scott Sizemore blasted Tateyama's second pitch into the left-field bleachers for a grand slam, the first pinch-hit slam of his career and first for the A's since 2004. Jemile Weeks followed with a single and Cliff Pennington doubled him home for a five-run inning and 8-3 lead.
The Rangers will now scoreboard watch as the Los Angeles Angels, 2.5 games back at the start of the day, are at home tonight against the New York Yankees. Dan Haren faces CC Sabathia.
* The Rangers' win streak against Oakland ended at nine games.
* Alexi Ogando (12-8) certainly wasn't at his best, but he did battle into the sixth inning. He allowed three runs in the second inning with two being unearned. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba threw the ball away trying to make a throw to first on a sacrifice bunt to put runners at the corners with no outs. Ryan Sweeney then tripled to the right-field corner to score both runs. He came around on a sacrifice fly. Ogando left after hitting the lead-off man in the sixth and giving up a single. He was charged with two more runs after exiting as he surrendered five runs, three earned, on six hits, a walk and the hit batter. He struck out three.
* Adrian Beltre made it an 8-5 game with his 21st home run of the season, a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth with no outs. It was Beltre's first homer since July 19. Remember, in his return to the lineup on Sept. 1 he was robbed of a homer to right field.Beltre also legged out an infield single. There was no throw, but it was a good test of the hamstring that sidelined him for six weeks.
* Two terrific catches by A's outfielders in the fourth ruined what might have been a bigger inning beyond the two runs Texas put up. Center fielder Ryan Sweeney made a diving stab to rob lead-off hitter Michael Young of extra bases and Josh Willingham somehow ran down David Murphy's blast to left on the warning track, reaching up and making a leaping grab as he lunged into the scoreboard in the wall.
* Craig Gentry pinch-hit in the sixth inning with two outs. David Murphy took third on a passed ball and Gentry might have thought he he had an RBI coming with a slicing liner to left. But, Josh Willingham made one last adjustment and made an awkward grab to end the inning.
* Josh Hamilton made a beautiful sliding catch early in the game, but he struck out looking with two on in the seventh. He took a pitch deep to left but just on the wrong side of the foul pole. Then he looked at a pitch that appeared low, but home plate umpire Bill Miller called it a strike. Hamilton then looked at a slider that sent him to the dugout with a few words for Miller.
* Michael Young's two-run double in the seventh -- following Hamilton's strikeout -- gave him 97 RBIs on the season. Young has had one 100-RBI season back in 2006 (103). Of course, for most if not all of Young's career he has hit at the top of the order. This season he has hit fifth and took over at cleanup during Beltre's extended absence, and Young continues to hit fourth.
* Mike Adams retired the side in order in the eighth inning. He got Sizemore and Weeks both looking and then got a nice play from Elvis Andrus deep in the hole to punch out Cliff Pennington. The two strikeouts by Adams followed by consecutive strikeouts by Darren Oliver to end the seventh.
* More solid A's defense -- which hasn't always been the case against the Rangers -- retired Mitch Moreland, who drove in two runs with a double in the third. In the eighth with Esteban German pinch-running on first, Moreland crushed a liner down the first base line that was headed foul, but first baseman Brandon Allen, who was practically standing on the bag to protect against a double, snared it and easily doubled-up German. Pinch-hitter Mike Napoli grounded out to third to end the eighth with the Rangers still trailing, 8-7.
* Washington certainly used his expanded roster on Saturday. Four players came off the bench to either pinch-hit (Gentry, Napoli), pinch-run (German) or take over in the field (Leonys Martin in the ninth). Six relievers were used behind Ogando (Gonzalez, Tateyama, Mark Hamburger, Darren Oliver, Smith and Neftali Feliz).
* Feliz pitched a scoreless ninth, allowing a two-out walk.
* Sizemore made a terrific snow-cone catch at the steps of the A's dugout to get Ian Kinsler to start the bottom of the ninth.