Monday, April 28, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Athletics 4, Rangers 0
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Oakland Athletics scored four runs off Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray held the Rangers' offense down in a 4-0 victory. Some quick thoughts:
How it happened: Darvish was off his game. The fastball command wasn't there and the A's took advantage, scoring four runs off Darvish and chasing him after 3 1/3 innings, the shortest start of his big league career. Gray pitched a complete-game shutout, holding the Rangers to three hits.
What it means: The A's beat the Rangers for the first time this season and took sole possession of first place in the AL West, as well. The Rangers fall to 9-7 at home, still the best mark in the division and one of the best home records in the AL.
Short stay: Prior to Monday, Darvish's shortest start was four innings in May 2012, his first season in the big leagues. Monday’s early hook ended a streak of 56 straight starts of at least five innings pitched, a club record and the third-longest active streak in the majors. Darvish's fastball command deserted him. He wasn't able to recover, as the A's fouled pitches off, got his pitch count up and then took advantage of pitches over the middle of the plate.
Run shortage: Once again, Darvish was on the mound and the Ranger bats went quiet. Blame Gray, who was efficient and in control. Darvish needed 83 pitches to get through 3 1/3 innings and Gray needed 87 to get through seven innings. The Rangers' offense never got going, with only two baserunners even getting into scoring position.
Saving pen: Nick Martinez, who has started two games for the Rangers this season, came in to start the fifth inning and was able to save the bullpen despite Darvish's abbreviated outing. He went the rest of the way to prevent any more arms from wearing down. That could be critical later this series.
No. 9 hitter: It was a good night for No. 9 hitters. Eric Sogard, who came in with a .204 average, managed to walk twice off Darvish. He scored a run in the third after his one-out walk. Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos was hit by a pitch in the third and singled in the sixth. For a fairly silent Rangers offense, that constituted a good night.
Great catch: Leonys Martin made a terrific catch and then threw back to first for a double play to end the eighth inning. Martin took a possible home run away from Daric Barton in the eighth, reaching up at the top of the wall in front of the Rangers' bullpen to make the catch. He then threw the ball back to first to double up Josh Reddick.
Replay fun: Replay was used three times in the game -- twice on Rangers challenges and once at the request of the umpires. The Rangers went 1-for-2 on challenges, both on plays at first base. The first one came in the third inning; Brandon Moss didn't get back to the bag in time on a wild pitch and was thrown out by Chirinos as Fielder did a good job of blocking the bag. The second one, in the eighth inning, didn't go the Rangers' way as Fielder couldn't get a tag applied before Reddick got back. Then, after Martin's catch, the throw came in and Reddick was called safe as he scampered back to first. Replays showed Fielder was on the bag before Reddick got back and the call was overturned.
Up next: LHP Martin Perez (4-0, 1.42 ERA) goes up against LHP Scott Kazmir (3-0, 1.62 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. CT in the second game of the three-game series.