Just last week, Raul Alcantara went up against Yu Darvish and won, the former top-pitching prospect slowly and steadily falling out of favor with the organization besting the pitcher with the mega-deal with the best K/9 rate in the history of all of baseball. In that start, Alcantara nearly made it through six innings pitched before running out of gas, and primarily reduced on inducing ground balls and weak contact to get through the game. In this start, one game after the Rangers officially clinched a playoff spot and chose to rest many of their starters who were in the game last time Alcantara pitched, Alcantara became much more aggressive in his approach, with mixed results.
After an inauspicious start in which Marcus Semien flubbed a ground ball off the bat of the leadoff batter, Alcantara would showcase the stuff that made him a top pitching prospect in the first place, forcing a pop up followed by two strikeouts, courtesy of high mid-90’s fastballs, to get out of the inning without any threat of a run scoring. Alcantara would get a third consecutive strikeout to begin the second inning using the same strategy, but then the Rangers appeared to expect the high fastball and took advantage of any mistakes in location, as Jared Hoying, Elvis Andrus, and Robinson Chirinos would hit three consecutive extra base hits in the order of double-home run-double, to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Alcantara would settle back in after that, however, and pitched with relatively little stress through the fifth inning.
The sixth inning appeared to be relatively breezy for Alcantara as well, as he started the inning with his sixth strikeout of the game, this one on a curveball to Joey Gallo, before allowing a single and a flyout to put a runner on first base with two outs. Elvis Andrus strode up to the plate again, notably not powerful or that good at hitting in general. Andrus smoked a second pitch changeup high and deep down the left field line, over the top of the foul pole for his second home run of the game and his first multi-home run game of his career to make it 4-0 Rangers. Alcantara’s final line on the afternoon would be six innings, seven hits, six strikeouts, and four runs all coming via Andrus home run.
A Stephen Vogt single in the first inning quenched any fears of the A’s no no-hit streak being threatened yet again, but that just took all drama and fun out of the game. The offense was bad again.
Worse yet, it was boring.
The A’s had two hits through seven innings, one being an accidental against-the-shift bunt swing from Alonso. In the eighth inning, the A’s loaded the bases against the Texas bullpen via two singles and a walk, but after a long (and actually exciting and interesting) at bat from Stephen Vogt a harmless fly ball to center field would end the inning and the threat.
Rangers would rally in the ninth inning off of Liam Hendriks to draw the game out for some reason, fortunately, in the bottom of the ninth inning the A’s figured out how to go quietly and put the game out of misery.
It should be noted that Khris Davis earned himself another outfield assist in the fifth inning, tossing out the lead runner in Jurickson Profar trying to tag up from first base to second base on a relatively deep fly ball into left field. Davis uncorked his throw to Semien quickly, who himself got the ball to Wendle at second as soon as he could, unfortunately just a moment too late. However, as Profar was doing the pop-up half of his pop-up slide, Joey Wendle totally nudged him off the bag/tagged him with authority, and Profar was ruled out without a challenge. Congrats to Khris Davis on his second biggest accomplishment after his home run total.
In a game between a division champion and a division loser, the winner was the division champion and the loser was everyone who spent their hard-earned Saturday afternoon watching a nap-aid.