ARLINGTON, Texas – After watching his team jump out to a huge lead Friday, lose almost all of it in a single inning and then hold on for a marathon victory, A’s manager Bob Melvin wasn’t in the mood for deep analysis.
“A win’s a win … Period,” he said inside his office at Rangers Ballpark.
The simplest conclusions seem the best to draw from this 4-hour, 9-minute affair, because making true sense of the A’s 9-8 victory over the Texas Rangers is a fruitless endeavor.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's narrowly escape with win over Rangers]
They pummeled the Rangers into near submission by the sixth inning, opening a 9-2 lead. But after Brett Anderson walked two batters to start the bottom of the eighth and then left with back spasms, the Rangers batted around and scored six runs as Melvin burned through four relievers just to get three outs.
True, that rally only ended due to a blown umpire’s call, when Alex Rios was called out at third on Adrian Beltre’s single when it appeared (even to the naked eye) that he was clearly safe.
But the bottom line is that the A’s didn’t let the roof cave completely.
And while they don’t take a truckload of momentum into Saturday’s matinee due to how narrow their victory was, they went to sleep Friday night knowing they took the opener of this three-game series and now lead the Rangers by 4 ½ games in the American League West.
They also know their bats are still red-hot. And they know they’ve got a chance to keep the offense rolling against Yu Darvish, a pitcher they’ve beaten the past five times they’ve faced him.
Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle, who got the final four outs for his second save, credited the Rangers for not throwing in the towel when they were down seven runs. He referenced the A’s mad comeback in the standings in 2012 to steal the division title away from Texas.
“If we learned anything from last year,” Doolittle said, “it’s that nothing is safe until you wrap it up. They’re gonna put some heat on us.”
Anderson, meanwhile, is listed as day-to-day. The lefty said his back first tightened up midway through his first batter. He doesn’t sound overly concerned.
[RELATED: Anderson leaves game with back spasms]
“Pushing off and throwing, it was fine,” he said. “But landing and getting that torque toward home plate is when I felt it. The only solace is it was a back spasm. People come back from those in a day or however long.”
Another bullpen question that might be swirling through the minds of A’s fans: Why wasn’t closer Grant Balfour called upon in the bottom of the ninth?
“I’m not going to just use Doolittle for one guy, with all the lefties coming up,” Melvin said. “ Balfour would’ve been (used) for (Ian) Kinsler. You (also want) to have somebody available the next day.”
By the time the final out was recorded, it was easy to forget Dan Straily (10-7) was the pitcher of record for the A’s. He became their fifth 10-game winner, just the fifth time that’s happened in Oakland history.
“I’ve heard about all the crazy ballgames played here,” Straily said of Rangers Ballpark. “Now I’ve seen one first-hand.”
Third baseman Josh Donaldson -- playing a game in front of his father, Levon, for the first time in his life -- had three RBI and extended his hitting streak to nine games. Yoenis Cespedes added a three-run homer to continue his September tear.
The A’s did lots of good things individually. Collectively, they put a scare into themselves but nailed down an important victory.
“Good game to win,” Melvin concluded.
And a long one to watch.