OAKLAND – One team is playing for its postseason life. The other is playing out the string.
Yet it was the Texas Rangers, 35 games under .500 when they arrived in Oakland, who took it to the contending A’s over the past three days at the Coliseum.
They polished off a three-game sweep of Oakland with Thursday’s 7-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 17,574. Many of those fans made their feelings known early, showering boos on the home team as Texas jumped on right-hander Sonny Gray for four runs in the top of the first.
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Granted, the Rangers are playing like a loose and carefree bunch these days under interim manager Tim Bogar. They’ve got nothing to lose, and that made them a dangerous team coming into this series.
But isn’t the A’s who should have brought the intensity, the focus, the urgency?
The standings show they’re right in the thick of the American League wild card chase, though you wouldn’t know it by the late-season back pedal they continue on.
Oakland owned the major leagues’ best record as late as Aug. 15. But since Aug. 10, the A’s are 11-25, and that mark is tied with Arizona for the worst in the majors.
With Kansas City off Thursday, the A’s fell a half-game behind the Royals for the American League’s top wild card spot. They lead the Mariners by 1 ½ games for the secon and final wild card spot heading into Seattle’s game Thursday night against the Angels in Anaheim.
Starting pitching report
Gray (13-9), who hasn’t notched a win since Aug. 22, once again encountered the early-game problems that have plagued him much of this season.
The Rangers tagged him for four runs on five hits and a passed ball in the top of the first.
As he often does, Gray settled in after that. He allowed just one more run, which came in when Adrian Beltre scored on Tomas Telis fielder’s choice grounder to make it 5-2. But the damage was done.
Gray finished with eight hits and five runs (four earned) allowed over five innings.
Texas added two more runs in the sixth off Dan Otero to stretch their led to five. Jason Hammel, who will leave the team Thursday night and miss his next start to be with his wife, who’s expecting, entered to get some work. He pitched three scoreless innigns and struck out four.
At the plate
The A’s threatened to make a game of it hwen they scored twice in the third to cut their lead in half. Sam Fuld tripled to the right field corner to score Coco Crisp and Derek Norris to make it 4-2. But that was it for Oakland, which mustered just six hits total on the day.
In the field
The A’s didn’t commit an error, but Norris allowed a run to score on a passed ball that didn’t seem that difficult of a pitch from Gray in the first. Jed Lowrie, so shaky in the field a couple nights ago, turned in some nice plays at shortstop.
A crowd of 17,574 was on hand, and the booing skills were on display early.
The month of September doesn’t usually bring to mind interleague play, but the Philadelphia Phillies arrive for a three-game series beginning Friday. Jon Lester (15-10, 2.45) matches up against David Buchanan (6-7, 3.75) in the 6:35 p.m. opener that will be followed by fireworks. Saturday – Drew Pomeranz (5-4, 2.53) vs. Jerome Williams (3-2, 2.84), 1:05 p.m. Sunday – Scott Kazmir (14-9, 3.44) vs. A.J. Burnett (8-17, 4.40), 1:05 p.m. All three games will air on Comcast SportsNet California.