ARLINGTON, Texas – For five innings Saturday, the A’s couldn’t generate anything offensively.
By the sixth inning, their biggest challenge was organizing the dugout Home Run Tunnel fast enough for all those who needed it.
A quiet night at the plate turned into a long-ball party for Oakland in a 5-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. They stunned the home team with four home runs in a span of six batters bridging the sixth and seventh innings. It was a sudden, and stunning, turn of events given the way things had been playing out on another steamy night at Globe Life Park.
The A’s managed just three base runners over their first 19 plate appearances. Then they went deep four times over their next six. John Jaso got it started with two outs in the sixth, hammering an 0-1 pitch from Nick Tepesch (3-7) for a two-run homer to give the A’s a 2-1 lead. Cespedes made it back-to-back bombs with an opposite field shot to right.
Josh Donaldson led off the seventh with an opposite-field blast of his own to right-center, two pitches after Tepesch left because of a knee injury and was replaced by Nate Adcock. After Stephen Vogt was retired, Josh Reddick cleared the right-field wall for his first homer since returning from the disabled list.
The power outburst made a winner of Sonny Gray (12-3), who ran his winning streak to a career-high tying six games with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
Starting pitching report
Gray wasn’t as dominant as his last start in Arlington, when he tossed his first career shutout. But he continued a magnificent July, during which he is 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA in five starts. He scattered seven hits and tied his season high with four walks but gave up just one run, lowering his season ERA to 2.65.
Gray struck out five and had the Rangers chasing his diving curve ball, the pitch that has keyed this month-long run of dominance he’s enjoying. The only run off of him came in the fourth. Jim Adduci singled with two outs, stole second and came home on J.P. Arencibia’s single up the middle that put Texas up 1-0.
Dan Otero replaced Gray with two outs in the seventh and runners on second and third, but he escaped the jam by retiring Elvis Andrus on a bouncer to shortstop.
Luke Gregerson handled the eighth and Sean Doolittle closed it out in the ninth.
At the plate
Texas entered the night with an American League-worst 4.81 ERA, but journeyman right-hander Jerome Williams bottled up the A’s in Friday’s 4-1 Texas win. Tepesch allowed just two hits through 5 2/3 innings until Oakland went completely homer-happy.
It wasn’t surprising who got the barrage started. Jaso came in hitting .390 (16-for-41) over his previous 13 games – he’s been an underrated contributor all season. Then Cespedes went the opposite way on a 2-1 pitch, his third homer in his past three games after he’d gone 25 in a row without one.
Donaldson’s leadoff homer in the seventh came in bizarre fashion. The count was 2-1 when Tepesch was visited by the training staff on the mound and exited the game. Nate Adcock entered the game and got all the time he needed to warm up. His first pitch was a slider for strike two, then Donaldson drilled a 396-foot homer over the wall in right-center, his 22nd of the season. Two batters later, Reddick pulled a ball over the right field wall, his fifth homer of the season but first since May 16.
In the field
The A’s only error came wehen second baseman Eric Sogard threw wildly to first base in the seventh and put two runners in scoring position. But Otero got out of the inning unscored upon.
The announced turnout was 34,651.
This three-game series wraps up with Sunday’s 4:05 p.m. contest, as Scott Kazmir (11-3, 2.32) takes the mound against Miles Mikolas (1-2, 7.48).