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Game #19: A's come up short, lose 4-3 to Rangers

The A's can't capitalize on a swath of baserunners and lose the first of three against the Rangers.

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Thearon W. Henderson

The good news is that the A's apparently still own Yu Darvish. The ace who had dominated in his previous three starts looked positively pedestrian against the A's bats. The A's tagged him for three runs in the second inning on a Brandon Moss solo shot and a base hit by Coco Crisp that scored Josh Reddick and Eric Sogard.

However, the A's were done in by their 1-10 with runners in scoring position and their 11 men left on base. They had 11 baserunners against Darvish in the first four innings but couldn't deliver the knockout blow.

Conversely, Kouz was Klutch for the Rangers. The erstwhile A's third baseman, only playing in the majors due to Adrian Beltre's injury, has been on fire.  Fresh off being named the AL player of the week, Kouz went 2-4, had a key double and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

The game started off ominously, with Shin Soo-Choo smacking a leadoff homer off the fifth straight fastball served by A's starter Dan Straily.  With one out, Straily walked Alex Rios. Although it looked like Straily might unravel, Jaso bailed him out by nailing Rios trying to steal second, and Dan settled down.  He struck out the side in the second inning, and the A's bats backed him up with the aforementioned three run second inning.

Straily, however, was unable to hold the two-run lead.  In the top of the 4th, Prince Fielder doubled, and Kevin Kouzmanoff knocked him in (seriously this is getting ridiculous). In the bottom frame, the A's loaded the bases, but failed to score as Donaldson flew out to end the threat. That moment had the feeling of a missed opportunity that the A's would come to regret, and so it went.

Fielder knocked in another run in the 5th to tie it up 3-3. Ryan Cook pitched a scoreless sixth, Fernando Abad did the same in the seventh (aided by a beautiful running, leaping grab by Coco Crisp that probably saved a triple). Abad did have some great stuff again; how do you hit a 79 mph knuckle-curve that breaks over 13"? Nasty. He's proving to be a great find.

In the bottom of the seventh, Darvish was out of the game, and Neal Cotts was on the mound. With Josh Donaldson on first, Bob Melvin pinch hit for Brandon Moss with Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes absolutely crushed a ball to centerfield. It looked like a home run off the bat. Unfortunately the Marine Layer killed the ball just enough, and Leonys Martin made the catch with his back against the wall to preserve the tie game. Sigh.

Doolittle gave up the go-ahead run to a former A, Donnie Murphy. Apparently the straight fastball catching too much of the plate is not a great pitch, because Kouzmanoff and Murphy were able to smack him around with that. He gave up a run and couldn't get through the inning.

In the top of the 9th, we were treated to an ugly play in all phases of the game. On a pitchout, Elvis Andrus took a wild swing (which seemed intentional, because there is no other explanation for it), and Jaso decided to launch the ball into centerfield while trying to catch Michael Choice heading to second. The play was not scored an error because Choice was apparently asleep at the wheel. Shockingly ugly baseball all around; you need to see this (thanks to Hit4TheCycle for the gif skills - click on the pic to view):


Just mesmerizing.

Nevertheless, despite the missed opportunities, the ugly defense, the shaky bullpen, and everything else...the A's were still only down by one in the bottom of the 9th, with the 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Elvis Andrus gifted Jed Lowrie two bases on a throwing error and the A's had a runner in scoring position with just one out.  Donaldson flew out, and it came down to Joakim Soria vs. Yoenis Cespedes for all the marbles. On his fifth pitch, Soria sent a hanging slider right down Broadway. It could not have been a better pitch to hit. Cespedes, though, got umm...a little excited. Like a little girl who just found out she got a pony for her birthday. Or the guy who finds out he won the powerball. Cespedes swung out of his shoes, mightily whiffed, and ended up about 20 feet away by the time his swing was done. Soria got him to fly out to end the game, and so it went.  Tough loss, but this kind of thing happens over the course of the long season.