OAKLAND – A pitcher’s duel was expected. A rout is what took place.
The A’s did away with the suspense Wednesday afternoon in an 11-4 pounding of Texas that pushed them back into a first-place tie with the Rangers. It was an emphatic way for Oakland to claim the three-game series, and they did it by beating Texas ace Yu Darvish, who squared off against Jarrod Parker in what was a highly anticipated pitching matchup.
Darvish (12-7) battled control problems all game and was gone after five-plus innings, while Parker rang up his ninth straight win with six solid innings.
It’s tough to draw conclusions from one lopsided contest – the A’s and Rangers are dead even at 80-59 with 23 games left, after all. But you have to wonder what this does to this psyche of each team and how it might affect their three-game series in Arlington Sept. 13-15. Darvish would be scheduled to pitch again in that series if Texas’ rotation stands as is.
Bottom line, the A’s won for the ninth time in 12 games. They’re rolling as the major leagues’ worst team – the Houston Astros – arrives for a four-game series starting Thursday.
Starting pitching report
Parker won his ninth straight decision, making him 9-0 with a 2.59 ERA over his past 18 starts. His 18 consecutive starts without a loss established a new Oakland record. Since 1916, the only longer such streak in franchise history was Lefty Grove’s 21-start string in 1931. However, Grove made 10 relief appearances during that streak and absorbed a loss. Parker (11-6) went six innings and gave up two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. He gave up his only runs in the third with the A’s leading 3-0. Jim Adduci singled with one out and came around to score on Leonys Martin’s double to the right-field corner. Craig Gentry followed with an RBI single to right to make it 3-2.
Brett Anderson took over for Parker and looked a bit flat, entering in such a one-sided game. He gave up three runs over three innings and gave up a homer but notched his second save.
At the plate
The A’s have had Darvish’s number, plain and simple. The right-hander gave up five runs and issued a career-high tying six walks in five-plus innings. His career ERA in the majors is 3.42. He is 1-5 with a 4.86 ERA in six starts against Oakland, and he’s allowed 11 runs in 10 1/3 innings over two starts at the Coliseum. It was a close contest, still 3-2, in the bottom of the sixth when Daric Barton crushed a two-run homer to right-center to chase Darvish from the game. It only got worse for reliever Robbie Ross. Eric Sogard singled, Stephen Vogt doubled and Coco Crisp singled up the middle to drive in a run. Then Josh Donaldson drove an 0-1 pitch well over the left-field wall for a three-run homer to make it 9-2. Donaldson became the A’s third 20-homer player this season, joining Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes (21). Moss rang up his team-high 26th with a two-run shot off Darvish in the first. But the win wouldn’t have been complete without a Coco Crisp home run, right? He got it in the eighth, belting a two-run shot for his 18th home run. Crisp is hitting .351 with eight homers, 17 runs and 14 RBI over his past 14 games.
In the field
Jed Lowrie fumbled a potential double-play grounder in the fifth for his 16th error of the season, but it didn’t cost the A’s. Lowrie entered the day tied for the second-most errors among all American League fielders.
The announced turnout was 18,886 on a cloudless, sunny afternoon.
The A’s open a four-game series against Houston on Thursday, with Sonny Gray (2-2, 2.57) opposing former high-profile A’s prospect Brad Peacock (3-5, 5.98). Oakland is 12-3 against Houston this season but the Astros did take two out of three at the Coliseum the last time the teams met. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m..