For most of the game this afternoon, the only player on either side who seemed especially interested in helping his team win was Nelson Cruz.
Cruz, who finished the day 3/5 with 2 doubles, drove in all four of the Rangers' runs and had a solid at-bat against every A's pitcher he faced.
Fortunately for the A's pitchers, Cruz was just about it for the Ranger offense today.
The A's managed to spread their offense, such as it was, out over a broader range of contributors. Or, put another way, the A's garnered their usual plethora of walks -- 10 in all, inflated by the standard poor Texas pitching -- and mixed in enough bloops and bleeders to push across enough runs to match Cruz' single-handed output.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth, with the A's seemingly on the verge of letting another peck of free baserunners wither in the vine, Aaron Cunningham lofted a high, high fly ball to the left-field corner ... and I think that it may still be hanging up there -- in any event, its trajectory was definitely beyond the fence, and Cunningham had his first career MLB HR, the A's had a 7-4 lead, and it was up to Brad Ziegler to shut down the Rangers in the ninth for the win. Ziggy gave us a bit of scare when he surrendered a long, hard fly double off the straightaway centerfield fence to Marlon Byrd (very, very nearly the first MLB HR surrendered by Ziggy), but a weak grounder to Crosby (what goes around comes around) salted the game away for the A's.
Dana Eveland started out strong through the first two innings, showing very good break and command on his curve, and keeping the Rangers off-balance. He started to wobble, walk, and nibble in the third, though, and Cruz' first double plated two for the Rangers. Eveland's pitch count and control never quite recovered, and he was done after 5 innings of 4-hit, 4-walk ball. Embree, Street, and Blevins managed to cobble together 2 quasi-effective innings before Devine and Ziggy shooed the Rangers away in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
On the Rangers' pitching ledger, Ass-Hunter Vicente Padilla wasn't any more effective than Eveland, walking 3 and hitting 2 (his assball to Sweeney looking especially suspicious, and earning him a new nickname). Just what is it, exactly, about Ranger pitching that makes them afraid to throw strikes, even away from Arlington? What a parade of futility!
So congratulations to Cunningham and Ziegler and the A's -- and to Jack Hannahan and Daric Barton, who, despite going hitless for the day, not only worked 5 walks between them, but contributed a handful of sterling defensive plays.
A's have a home off-day tomorrow before hosting the Slegna on Tuesday.