OAKLAND – The A’s sparked their offensive night Tuesday with back-to-back RBI triples, but the Texas Rangers had their own unique approach working.
They used four sacrifice flies to come back from an early three-run deficit and defeat the A’s 8-6 in the opener of a three-game series at the Coliseum. It was a crucial victory for Texas, which increased its American League West lead to two games over the Houston Astros, who lost to the Angels.
The A’s haven’t gotten a whole lot right this season, but piling up three-baggers is one thing they know how to do. When Jake Smolinksi and Marcus Semien delivered consecutive run-scoring triples in the second, they marked the A’s 39th and 40th triples of the season, tying the Oakland record set by the 1968 club.
The A’s scored three in that second-inning rally off Martin Perez. They pushed that lead to 4-1 in the third. But the Rangers executed well in advancing runners and getting them home from third, taking the lead for good with a three-run seventh that made it 6-5.
Starting pitching report
Sean Nolin had a solid outing going as he took the mound for the sixth, with the A’s leading 5-3. Mike Napoli led off that inning with an infield single. Then Mitch Moreland crushed a 2-1 fastball over the wall in center for a two-run homer to tie it. That ended Nolin’s night. The lefty figures to get two more starts, as the rotation currently sets up, before the season ends. He’s posted a 4.57 ERA in four starts since being called up from the minors. Nolin has displayed decent stuff but needs to show he can work a little deeper into games. He’s made it through six innings just once in those four outings.
After Moreland’s homer tied it in the sixth, Texas took the lead with an odd rally off reliever Drew Pomeranz. Elvis Andrus hit a hard comebacker off Pomeranz’s leg for an infield single, then Rougned Odor’s slow grounder was misplayed for an error by first baseman Mark Canha. Chris Gimenez’s sacrifice bunt – one of three the Rangers had on the night – moved runners up to second and third. Then Delino DeShields delivered – what else? – a sacrifice fly to put the Rangers ahead.
At the plate
Here’s a factoid for you – each of Smolinski’s seven hits dating back to Sept. 14 are for extra bases. The outfielder continues to find ways to make an impact when he’s in the lineup, and he probably brought a little extra motivation facing the team that designated him for assignment back in June. His triple to left-center in the second kicked the A’s first scoring rally into gear, scoring Josh Reddick, who walked.
In the field
The Rangers are experimenting with Mike Napoli in left field just to keep the veteran’s bat in the lineup however possible. It’s a work in progress. Napoli had Josh Reddick’s shallow fly ball bounce off his glove with two outs in the fifth, allowing Brett Lawrie to score to give Oakland a 5-3 lead at the time.
The A’s made two errors to increase their AL-leading total to 113. Catcher Carson Blair let a throw get by him on a play at the plate in the first, allowing a runner to advance to second. In the sixth, Canha mishandled a slow roller off the bat of Odor.
A crowd of 16,524 showed up for the opener of the A’s final homestand.
Colby Lewis (16-8, 4.41) took a perfect game into the eighth inning in his last start against Oakland. He’ll take the mound in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. game, with Felix Doubront (3-2, 4.95) going for the A’s.