Final Score: A's 10, Rangers 6
Derek Norris and Yu Darvish were never in the game at the same time. Norris entered in the 6th inning three hitters after the A's knocked Darvish out having gotten just 15 outs (3 of those on the bases), but those two were the stories of this game.
Darvish lost to the A's for the 8th consecutive time, lasting just 5+ IP, charged with 8 hits and 7 runs (4 ER), walking 5. The A's scored in each of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings against Darvish, whose body language became visibly more agitated as he watched another start against Oakland go up in smoke.
As for Norris, his 3-run pinch hit HR in the 6th off of reliever Shawn Tolleson, and his subsequent 2-run double in the 8th off of Jason Frasor, made him only the 4th player in Oakland A's history to come off the bench and drive in 5 runs. (The others are Mickey Tettleton, Erubiel Durazo, and Seth Smith.)
Tommy Milone surrendered a 1st inning run courtesy of an Adrian Beltre RBI single, but then settled down to retire the next 8 batters as Oakland went to work on Darvish. Until Norris stole the show the A's offensive hero was another catcher, Stephen Vogt, who started in RF tonight.
Vogt singled in each of his 3 at bats against Darvish, and here's how the A's took the lead for good in the bottom of the 2nd: With Lowrie at 3B and Vogt at 1B and Oakland trailing 1-0, Alberto Callaspo singled to RF, scoring Lowrie with the tying run. Vogt scampered all the way to 3B, then dashed home as Alex Rios' throw into 2B got away. Vogt barely beat Elvis Andrus' throw home, then Callaspo barely beat the throw back to 2B. Vogt then added an RBI single in the 3rd to give the A's a 3-1 lead.
When Eric Sogard walked in the 4th, stole 2B and 3B, and scored on Coco Crisp's sacrifice fly, it looked like not only a great hitting day for Oakland but also a great day on the bases. Not so. The A's managed to make 3 outs on the bases, one when Lowrie was thrown out at the plate on a Callaspo single by so much that he didn't even bother to slide. The other two came on the same play, as Vogt singled home another run in the 5th but Lowrie got trapped between 2B and 3B, was run back to 2B and tagged out by Beltre, who then fired to 1B where Vogt had wandered well off the bag and was tagged out easily for a double play.
The A's might want to sharpen their base running a tad, but otherwise they were firing on all cylinders tonight scoring in 6 of the 8 innings in which they batted. Milone lasted 5⅔ IP, charged with 3 ER on 5 hits, with 1 BB and 3 Ks. It was Milone's 30th career win with the A's, and according to the radio broadcast -- and I still find this hard to fathom -- that places Milone 32nd on the Oakland A's all-time list for wins. (Next up: Steve Ontiveros with 31 and then Justin Duchscherer with 32.) Not bad for a #5 SP who didn't actually make the rotation out of spring training.
Sean Doolittle finished up with a 1-2-3 9th that featured 2 Ks. Doolittle has now struck out 46 this year and walked 1. He and Norris only helped their All-Star consideration, and the latest voting results have Yoenis Cespedes #4 among outfielders. Josh Donaldson, who laced a single to LF off the bench, leads 3Bmen by over 1,000,000 votes. Oh, and there's Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray and Brandon Moss...
...This team is kinda good, huh? "Best record in the big leagues" good after the Giants lost earlier today and both teams stand at 43-28. Sonny Gray vs. Nick Tepesch tomorrow afternoon at 12:35pm as the A's look for the series win. As far as the Rangers are concerned, "Well, at least it's not Darvish."