OAKLAND – As painful as the A’s latest defeat was for fans, this was a punch to the gut they saw coming.
The heartbreak came in the top of the ninth Wednesday, when the Texas Rangers scored four times off Sean Doolittle and waltzed away with an eventual 6-1 victory. But the seeds for defeat were planted in the bottom of the eighth, when the A’s loaded the bases with no outs and failed to add to their 1-0 lead.
Was there any doubt this one would end in disappointment? That’s what it’s come to for the A’s. When they shoot themselves in the foot in one area, it’s only a matter of time before it comes back to haunt them.
Their defeat, coupled with Kansas City’s victory over the Chicago White Sox, dropped the A’s into a tie with the Royals for the American League’s top Wild Card spot. Seattle remains two games back.
The end result was yet another victory snatched away from A’s starter Jeff Samardzija. The right-hander was sensational over eight innings, holding the Rangers to four hits and striking out 10 with no walks.
But the lack of run support robbed him of a well-earned win. Counting his time with the Chicago Cubs, Samardzija has made five starts this season in which he’s allowed zero runs. He’s earned zero wins in those starts.
Just another doozy of a loss for the A’s, who lost for the 14th time in their past 19 games.
Starting pitching report
Samardzija tried to will his team to victory, racking up strikeouts and showing the outward intensity that he was known for before coming to the A’s via trade.
But this marked the 19th time in 31 starts this season that Samardzija received two runs or fewer of support, including eight of 14 in an Oakland uniform.
He was dialed in Wednesday, mixing in breaking stuff with a fastball that was still touching 96 mph in the eighth inning.
Doolittle’s night took a turn for the awful. Fast. He allowed Elvis Andrus’ single with one out. Then Rougned Odor doubled home the tying run. After Adrian Beltre was intentionally walked, J.P. Arencibia unloaded with a three-run homer that put Texas up 4-1. It only got uglier from there.
At the plate
The A’s broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. Geovany Soto doubled with one out off lefty Derek Holland. Nick Punto pushed an infield single to the right side to put runners on the corners. After Coco Crisp went down swinging, Sam Fuld pulled a single through the right side for a 1-0 Oakland lead.
Holland was his usual stingy self at the Coliseum. He gave up just the one run and four hits over 6 1/3 innings. That lowered his ERA to 3.04 in nine career starts in Oakland. It’s the fourth-lowest opponents’ ERA at the Coliseum since 2010 (minimum five starts).
In the field
The A’s played an errorless game. At least there was that.
A crowd of 17,530 was on hand.
Sonny Gray (13-8, 3.18) and Nick Martinez (3-11, 4.93) square off in Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. series finale.