Travis Blackley gave the A's a reprise of his start in New York on Saturday, this time allowing 5 runs in the first and putting the A's in the hole. While the A's battled back using 5 HRs total, his replacements weren't really any better. The final score, in my opinion, belies how lopsided this game really was.
As mentioned, the Rangers opened the scoring right away in the 1st. After the A's squandered a two-on no-out scenario in the first, Ian Kinsler led off the game with a crush job to deep LF off of Blackley. While it looked like Blackley would settle down after getting the next two outs, a single by Adrian Beltre, another by Nelson Cruz, a wild pitch to Michael Young, and then his single would quickly make it 3-0 Rangers. A Mike Napoli HR would complete the scoring, and knock Blackley out of the game.
This would begin a very frustrating couple innings for the A's. In the 2nd, Josh Reddick homered to deep right to cut the lead to 5-1. In the bottom of the frame, with 2 outs again, Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton hit consecutive doubles to give the Rangers a 5-run advantage again. In the 3rd, an Adam Rosales single and Jonny Gomes double would make it 6-2. Again, the Rangers answered back on a Nelson Cruz double and Mike Napoli single. A Derek Norris HR to left in the 4th would bring the A's within 3, but then a Kinsler double, Andrus single, and Cruz SF would give it back to the Rangers. Jim Miller, Jeremy Accardo - it didn't matter who was up there today. The A's simply could not keep the Rangers off the board during those innings. And it made me want to throw things.
Meanwhile, while Matt Harrison was very hittable, the A's stopped scoring as soon as the Rangers did. The A's did put a scare into the home crowd, with Yoenis Cespedes, Reddick, and Brandon Moss homering all in the 8th off of Mike Adams (what's gotten into him lately?), but they were all solo shots and left a 2-run deficit in the 9th against Joe Nathan. He worked a 1-2-3 inning for the save, albeit with a questionable strike 3 call to pinch hitting Seth Smith to begin the inning.
Yes, you can say the defense failed the A's today, which it did. Gomes made a throwing error in the 1st that allowed Young to move up a base. Josh Donaldson made an error in the 8th to allow Andrus on. Defense has looked and felt shoddy this trip whereas it's been the opposite earlier in the season. But, the A's (and any team) will lose 90% of the time when the starter pitches 1 inning and allows 5 runs. That's just how it goes in baseball.
The good news is that this killer road trip is over and the A's will go home to finish the season against the Mariners and these same Rangers and still control their fate. Any combination of 6 A's wins and Angels losses will out the A's into the coveted WC2 spot for good. Right now, I don't know about you guys, but I'm a big M's fan for the next 2-3 hours.