Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Rapid Reaction: A's 12, Rangers 5
By Richard Durrett
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers couldn't hold a 5-2 lead Wednesday -- or a four-game lead with six games to play -- and watched as the Oakland A's won the AL West, snatching the division from them on the final day.
Josh Hamilton's error was the game's most memorable play as he trotted in to catch what appeared to be a routine, lazy fly ball but ended up overrunning it as it glanced off his glove. That broke a 5-5 tie and the A's were on their way from there.
Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse shortly):
What it means: The Rangers will play Friday in Arlington against the Orioles in the AL wild-card game at 7:37 p.m. CT.
Hamilton has big error: Hamilton inexplicably missed a shallow fly ball by Yoenis Cespedes that would have ended the fourth inning with the score still tied. He appeared to see the ball, coming in toward it. But it looked as if he overran it, and the ball glanced off the top of his glove. The error allowed two runs to score, breaking a 5-5 tie and putting the A's ahead by two. ... In between innings, television cameras caught manager Ron Washington having a lively conversation with Hamilton.
Dempster out early: The Rangers starter lasted just three innings, coming out of the game four batters into the fourth. Dempster gave up a leadoff walk -- usually costly -- and three straight hits as the A's closed the gap to 5-3. He didn't record an out and was taken out in favor of Derek Holland.
Fourth inning the difference: After Dempster struggled early in the inning, Holland couldn't get out of the jam. Coco Crisp hit a two-run double that was inches inside the right-field line to tie the score. Holland appeared ready to keep it tied, but Hamilton's error changed all of that.
Wasted chance in seventh: Beltre singled and Nelson Cruz doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs in the seventh against right-hander Ryan Cook, who was pitching in his fifth consecutive game. Cook got Michael Young to ground out and struck out David Murphy and Mike Napoli to end the threat. It was another disappointing offensive inning for the Rangers, who haven't consistently delivered the big hit.
Beltre ties it: With the Rangers down 1-0, Adrian Beltre hit an RBI single to score Ian Kinsler from third. It was particularly noteworthy in that Kinsler was at third with less than two outs, a situation that has been a problem for the Rangers in recent weeks.
Big inning: That third inning was a huge one for Texas. They got five runs, starting with that Beltre RBI. They did it by doing what the game asked. They just put balls in play, got some good fortune, and took advantage of Oakland's mistakes.
Two-out production: After Beltre was thrown out on a fielder's choice in the top of the third, the Rangers had runners on the corners and two outs in a 1-1 game. But Michael Young doubled down the right-field line, hitting the chalk to stay fair. That gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. He got the double after falling behind 0-2 and fouling off a few pitches. Then, with runners at second and third, Murphy singled to right on a 3-2 pitch, giving Texas a 4-1 lead.
Taking advantage: Still in the top of the third, Mike Napoli hit a popup that should have been the final out. But it appeared that A's third baseman Josh Donaldson didn't see the ball, forcing catcher George Kottaras to try to make the play. The ball sailed a bit and he missed it, and it dropped in fair territory. That put runners at the corners for Geovany Soto, who got a single up the middle to score another run. That hit ended an 0-for-16 skid for him.
A's score first: Oakland got the first run of the game, scoring off Dempster in the first inning thanks to three straight hits with one out, including an RBI double by Brandon Moss. ... Dempster did a good job of keeping the A's to one run, though. He had runners at second and third with one out and managed to wiggle out of it, getting Josh Reddick to pop up in foul ground and striking out Josh Donaldson on a nice slider that dropped out of the zone.
Pouring it on: The A's scored four in the eighth inning, with all the runs charged to Alexi Ogando. The reliever just didn't have it and the A's were relentless. One of the runs was unearned when Kinsler couldn't get a full handle on a ground ball as he tried to shove it to second to start a double play.
Tidbits: The A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,067 for Wednesday's game. That included 1,000 standing-room only tickets. ... The A's came back from at least a four-run deficit six times in 2012, including Wednesday. ... The A's added a run in the eighth on a solo shot by Derek Norris.
Up next: The Rangers will play in Friday's AL wild-card game against the Orioles in Arlington at 7:37 p.m. CT on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Yu Darvish will get the start.