Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Rangers answer bell in opener vs. A's
By Eric Gilmore Special to ESPNDallas.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington wanted to see how his team measured up Monday against the two-time defending American League West champion Oakland Athletics in their first meeting of the season.
The Rangers stood tall, overcoming an early 3-1 hole to beat the A's 4-3, but their victory might have come with a cost -- left fielder Shin-Soo Choo did not return to the field in the bottom of the seventh after suffering an ankle injury trying to beat out an infield single in the top of the inning.
Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a home run for Texas but later left with an injury.
Other than Choo's ailment -- which could force him to miss at least one game for a Texas team already beset by injury -- Washington liked most of what he saw from the Rangers against the A's, particularly the way they battled back to win the opener after falling behind by two runs in the second inning.
"You want to try to win the first one," Washington said. "I think we battle these guys pretty tough, but they've always found a way to pull it out on us. Tonight is just one ballgame. We got to come back tomorrow and we got to play just as well tomorrow as we did today. They're the division champs. It goes through them."
A pair of former A's -- third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and second baseman Donnie Murphy -- teamed up to produce the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, snapping a 3-3 tie.
Kouzmanoff, the reigning American League Player of the Week, led off with a double off the right-center wall against A's left-hander Sean Doolittle. First baseman Mitch Moreland moved Kouzmanoff to third with a sacrifice bunt, getting it down with two strikes. Then Murphy singled sharply to center off the hard-throwing Doolittle, bringing Kouzmanoff home.
"Every time you play Oakland you always know it's going to be a good series," Murphy said. "They're the top dog in the division right now, even though it's early. It's always nice to come in here and get that first win of the series. And to come from behind and take it from them, it was a good feeling."
Right-hander Yu Darvish wasn't at his best, but after giving up three runs in the second inning, he blanked the A's for the next four frames, escaping serious trouble twice. Darvish entered the game with a 1-6 career record against Oakland but got a no-decision. He said he has learned not to let his emotions derail him against the A's.
"I don't really have good numbers in this stadium, but compared to last year I think I've matured mentally to battle these situations," Darvish said. "I decided I would not get frustrated and irritated and I would focus on the hitter."