In a season that’s featured all forms of gut-wrenching defeats, the A’s broke new ground Tuesday night.
They took a two-run lead in the top of the 10th, only to give up three runs in the bottom half, with Marc Rzepczynski hitting Rougned Odor with the bases loaded to force in the winning run as the Texas Rangers claimed a 5-4 victory. Manager Bob Melvin had just ordered Adrian Beltre intentionally walked to move the winning run to third, in order to not allow Beltre the A’s killer to win the game with his bat.
That gamble backfired as Rzepczynski hit the left-handed hitting Odor in the right shoulder with his first pitch. But the seeds for Texas’ winning rally were sown when A’s reliever John Axford walked three in a row with one out, prompting Melvin to call on Rzepczynski.
That ended a game in which the A’s fought back to tie the game after trailing 2-1 after eight innings.
Down to their final out, they pushed the tying run across in the top of the ninth and then struck twice in the 10th to move ahead 4-2.
Yonder Alonso doubled to the right field corner off Keone Kela to score the go-ahead run and Ryon Healy singled Alonso home for a little cushion, but it ended up not to be enough for Oakland.
Danny Valencia grounded a two-out single through the right side in the ninth to score pinch runner Tyler Ladendorf and knot the game 2-2 for the A’s. Until that point, it was a frustrating night for the A’s offensively. They began it 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t fully capitalize on seven walks issued by Texas pitching.
The A’s have lost four in a row. They had won 10 of their previous 15 one-run contests.
The Rangers broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh. That run was keyed by Mitch Moreland’s grounder that deflected off Alonso’s for a single that moved the go-ahead runner into scoring position. Elvis Andrus’ sacrifice fly made it 2-1 Texas.
Starter Andrew Triggs was stellar on the mound for Oakland, pitching into the sixth and giving up just two hits, but he wound up with a no-decision.
Starting pitching report
In just his third major league start, Andrew Triggs turned in a terrific effort. He went 5 2/3 innings, gave up just two hits and left with a 1-0 lead. That Texas immediately tied it off reliever Ryan Dull in the sixth didn’t diminish Triggs’ effectiveness. He’s filling in due to injuries that have struck the rotation, and leading into Tuesday, A’s starters had gone less than five innings seven times in the previous 16 games.
Dull relieved Triggs with two outs and a runner on second in the sixth, and Carlos Beltran promptly greeted him with a game-tying single to right for a 1-1 game. Since his record-breaking streak of stranding 36 consecutive inherited runners to begin his season, opponents have chipped away at Dull’s invulnerability. Six of his past nine inherited runners have crossed home plate. Before Beltran’s RBI single, first batters were 5-for-51 off Dull.
Ryan Madson delivered a key outing, entering for the eighth and throwing two scoreless innings with three strikeouts to set the stage for the A’s comeback.
Beltran singled home two runs off Axford to tie it 4-4 in the bottom of the 10th.
At the plate
The A’s tying rally in the ninth began when Max Muncy beat out a one-out infield single off Sam Dyson. Mitch Moreland couldn’t handle a glove flip from Texas second baseman Rougned Odor on the play. Muncy was replaced by pinch runner Tyler Ladendorf. Ladendorf stole second on a called third strike on Coco Crisp that was the second out, setting up Valencia’s tying hit.
In the 10th, Brett Eibner drew a leadoff walk off Kela and motored around from first on Alonso’s double to break the 2-2 tie. The A’s would add on with Semien’s RBI single.
The A’s loaded the bases with no outs in the first but failed to get on the scoreboard. Khris Davis lined out to shortstop and Billy Butler hit into an inning-ending double play. The A’s took an early lead in the second by way of three consecutive walks issued by Texas starter Lucas Harrell, who went just two innings. The third walk issued to Valencia forced in a run and gave the A’s a 1-0 lead.
In the field
On the crucial play in the bottom of the seventh, Alonso broke to his right in pursuit of Moreland’s grounder. He seemed to pull back at the last second, perhaps thinking he should let Muncy field it. The ball deflected off his glove and changed course, getting past Muncy and sending Rougned Odor from first to third on the play with no outs. That set the stage for Elvis Andrus’ go-ahead sacrifice fly.
When healthy, Yu Darvish (3-3, 2.77) has been very good for Texas this season. Sean Manaea (4-7, 4.57) got back to the win column for the first time since June 29 in his last start. Those two match up in Wednesday’s 5:05 p.m. series finale.