Saves don't come easy for the A's, no matter who's on the mound. Tonight, it was Luke Gregerson who earned the blown save, the third time he's done so this year.
Oakland led 4-3 in the 9th, but things quickly went from bad to worse. Then they went from worse to good, and finally from good to terrible.
Mitch Moreland was on third base after a leadoff double, having moved over on a sacrifice bunt. Leonys Martin was at the plate, and true to form, the Rangers attempted what was supposed to be a safety squeeze. Martin came close to executing, but pushed the ball right back to Gregerson, who fielded and flipped to Derek Norris. Tag, out, ballgame.
It seemed like it, anyway. The Rangers had a runner on first with two out, and all the momentum was on Oakland's side. But saves don't come easy for the A's.
Martin stole second, and there was cause for concern. Josh Wilson doubled on a line drive to the left-field corner, and the lead was gone. Then Michael Choice singled through the middle, and the lead belonged to Texas.
Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, and Josh Donaldson went quietly in the bottom of the 9th inning — Texas 5, Oakland 4. The A's record stands at 13-7, with the Rangers breathing down their necks, just half a game out of first place in the standings that remain difficult not to pay attention to despite the date.
Oakland fell behind early when the Rangers scored twice on a string of walks and singles from Choice, Elvis Andrus, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Donnie Murphy, and Robinson Chirinos. No matter — the A's waited their turn then used a Lowrie double, Donaldson single, and Cespedes double to even the score.
The 2nd inning went by quickly, but the Rangers brought in a run on a 5-4-3 double play off Kouzmanoff's bat in their half of the 3rd. Again, no matter. Oakland put another crooked number on the board in the 4th on an Eric Sogard sac fly and a Crisp double.
Bob Melvin used Milone for two more frames before turning to Ryan Cook and Fernando Abad, who combined for two scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th — it was an inning later where things unraveled. Don't look now, but Abad has thrown 8.1 innings this year, and has yet to allow a run.
In other positive news for the A's, Josh Reddick went 2-for-3, and his batting average now stands at an increasingly respectable .220.
Oakland will look to avoid a sweep tomorrow afternoon at the Coliseum, where first pitch is at 12:35. It's a fantastic pitching matchup — Sonny Gray is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA, while Martin Perez is 3-0, lagging just slightly behind in the ERA department with a 1.86.