ARLINGTON, Texas – Swing the bats the way the A’s did Thursday, and the night is tailor-made for disappointment.
Adrian Beltre lined a walkoff homer against Luke Gregerson in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 Texas Rangers victory in the opener of this four-game series at Globe Life Park.
It wasn’t hard to envision this one ending badly for Oakland. That’s because their offense continues to malfunction at hard-to-believe proportions. They’ve scored runs in just two innings over their past three games, and if they don’t get the bats cranking, it could make for one tension-filled final weekend of the regular season.
The Seattle Mariners won Thursday, leaving the A’s magic number at two to clinch one of two wild card spots in the American League.
Beltre, a noted A’s killer over the years, took an 0-1 pitch from Gregerson and hit an opposite field shot that barely cleared the right field wall. It sent the A’s to their seventh loss in their past 10 games.
Starting pitching report
Making his first start since Sept. 12, Jason Hammel was terrific over 6-plus innings. He allowed just one run on five hits and didn’t walk a batter. You couldn’t have asked much more from a guy making his first start since Sept. 12. Over the previous 12 days, Hammel had pitched just three innings (in relief) because he missed a start to be home for the birth of his daughter.
The only run off him came via a two-out Texas rally in the sixth, after the A’s had gone ahead 1-0 in the top half. Leonys Martin dropped a bunt single to the right side and stole second base. Elvis Andrus followed with an RBI single to left to tie it.
Dan Otero turned in terrific work in relief of Hammel in the seventh. He inherited a no-out situation with runners on first and second, and notched two strikeouts and a groundout to escape the jam.
Gregerson worked a smooth eighth and got the first out of the ninth on Rougned Odor’s comebacker. Then Beltre delivered the game-deciding blow.
At the plate
The A’s have faced three very beatable starting pitchers over the past three days, yet for the third day in a row they couldn’t take advantage. Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, tagged for seven runs and nine hits in his previous start against the Angels, worked seven innings of one-run ball. He walked five, but the A’s just aren’t making pitchers pay for such outings nearly enough.
They put the leadoff man on base five times, but they squeezed their only run home – literally -- in the top of the sixth. With runners on the corners and one out, Geovany Soto dropped a safety squeeze to the right side to bring home Brandon Moss, who walked to lead off the inning. Jed Lowrie’s single moved him to third.
Coco Crisp reached base in all five of his plate appearances, but there was just a lack of hard contact from A’s bats all night, and it’s hardly an isolated occurence.
In the field
Left fielder Brandon Moss came up firing and made a good attempt at getting Martin at the plate in the sixth. His on-the-money throw was just a bit late.
Neither team committed an error.
The announced turnout was 33,696.
Scott Kazmir (14-9, 3.63) said after his last start that he still feels strong in the season’s final stages. But since the All-Star break, the lefty is 3-6 with a 5.86 ERA. He takes the ball in Friday’s 5:05 p.m. contest against Nick Tepesch (5-10, 4.14).