A night after demonstrating they don't particularly care that Yu Darvish is one of the American League's elite pitchers, the A's decided to display their disregard for another Rangers pitching trend: Martin Perez's 26-inning long scoreless streak.
Things were tough for the 23-year-old left-hander from the get-go, and Perez eventually allowed a whopping eight earned runs on eight hits and three walks. He got off to an inauspicious start when Coco Crisp doubled to left field leading off the game. After Crisp moved to third base on a Josh Donaldson groundout, Yoenis Cespedes walked, leaving runners at the corners for Derek Norris. The American League's first feral catcher didn't disappoint, scoring both runners with a one-out double.
The A's tacked on single runs in the 2nd and 3rd innings, leaving the score at 4-0 whilst Kazmir cruised.
Kazmir gave up the Rangers' first run in the bottom of the 4th, taking advantage of a single from Adrian Beltre and a double from Alex Rios. A Michael Choice single put runners on the corners, but Alberto Callaspo helped Kazmir out of the jam with runners on the corners in the bottom of the 4th when Leonys Martin hit a ground ball directly at him in front of the bag at first base. Callaspo threw home, where Derek Norris chased Rios back toward third and eventually tagged him out. Callaspo would have done well to tag the base before throwing to Norris, but he got another opportunity for a putout when Robinson Chirinos hit another ground ball right to him, ending the inning.
The A's broke the game open in the top of the 5th, a nightmare inning for Texas that began with Michael Choice badly misplayed a long line drive from Donaldson, taking an iffy route to the ball and then allowing it to clank of his glove for a double. Jed Lowrie, who had reached on a single, moved to third, and then a walk to Yoenis Cespedes left the bases jacked for Norris.
Perez, already frustrated with his first three innings, knew he was in trouble. He almost got out of it, though, whenNorris popped up to first base and was called out on the infield fly rule. But he issued a bases-loaded walk to Callaspo, putting Oakland's fifth run on the board, and Ron Washington had had enough, and replaced Perez with the right-handed Jason Frasor.
No matter — Bob Melvin made an early counter by pinch-hitting Brandon Moss for Craig Gentry, and Moss worked a bases-loaded walk of his own, putting the A's ahead, 6-1. Melvin's aggressiveness and willingness to make a move mid-game is impressive and awesome — even though tradition might dictate it, there's little sense waiting for a late-inning situation to pinch-hit Moss. So like the good manager that he is, Melvin used his best left-handed hitter in the highest-leverage situation. The move paid off, as Moss put together a terrific plate appearance to add a run, fouling off several close pitches and eventually taking a very close breaking ball that dropped just inches below the strike zone for ball four.
Then Josh Reddick singled through the right side, scoring Cespedes and Callaspo and moving Moss to third. The comedy of errors continued when a wild pitch from Frasor allowed Moss to score, and the A's were up 9-1, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
The Rangers did put a pair of runs on the board in the bottom of the 5th, ending Kazmir's night. His five innings this evening made for his shortest outing of the year and the Rangers' three earned run tied Kazmir's season high, but the southpaw's iffy outing was still easily good enough for his fourth win of the year.
Ryan Cook pitched an impressive two innings — he allowed no hits and only one baserunner. Fernando Abad, continuing an under-the-radar but still stellar April, shut the Rangers down in the 8th and Sean Doolittle finished the job with little trouble in the ninth.
The A's are now a win away from a sweep, especially interesting given that they suffered the same fate at Texas' hands last week in Oakland. That matchup starts at 5:05 Pacific, and pits Jesse Chavez (1-0, 2.32 ERA) against Robbie Ross (1-1, 2.45).