The big story tonight is that Andrew Triggs posted his third consecutive start giving up 0 earned runs. The A’s would need this performance to overcome 2 unearned runs and snap their 4 game losing streak. All the offense in the game came in the 6th inning.
Innings 1-5: Pitchers’ Duel
Both pitchers were great through the first 5 innings (and really, Triggs was good in the 6th as well, but we’ll get to that). We had a bona fide pitching duel, with both pitchers commanding all their offerings and averaging only about 10 pitches per inning. Yu Darvish repeatedly got the A’s to swing at bad pitches early in the count, while Andrew Triggs looked dominant against both lefties and righties. His offspeed stuff had tons of late movement and he was able consistently land all of his pitches right on the corner.
I also want to make sure I give credit to Bruce Maxwell, who called an excellent game all night. He had Triggs doing to the Rangers what AJ Griffin did to the A’s last night, changing up speeds and switching locations left and right to constantly keep the hitters off balance. Maxwell was similarly great once the relievers came in and overall deserves a lot of credit for the win tonight.
6th Inning: Same preventable runs, new ending
Yonder Alonso made a couple of excellent defensive plays through the first few innings, but unfortunately the third time was the harm. He clanked a groundball from Jurickson Profar to give the A’s an error in their 11th consecutive game. Of course it came to hurt us - Profar advanced to second on a wild pitch (that maybe could have been ruled a passed ball) and then scored off an Elvis Andrus single where there may have been a play at the plate had Jaff Decker not bobbled the ball. The defensive trainwreck was not complete - Andrus promptly stole second and third like it was nothing, then scored by sliding into home on an ill-advised fielders choice by Rosales (who should have just gone for the sure out at first). 2-0 Rangers, both runs completely preventable.
This time, though, the A’s didn’t let the error mark the end. Yu Darvish started to falter in the bottom of the 6th inning and the A’s were ready to pounce. Plouffe lead off with a walk. After Maxwell was robbed of a single by the diving Profar, Adam Rosales blasted a home run to left field to tie the game at 2. The A’s finally got the big hit they have been missing so sorely these last few games. Jaff Decker followed up with a booming double and Alonso walked after a long at-bat. After Yu Darvish looked untouchable through 5 innings, the A’s put up good, long at-bats and knocked him out with one out in the 6th.
Tony Barnette came in to try and close out the inning for Texas with two men on base - and promptly proceeded to walk Jed Lowrie and give up a sac fly to Khris Davis to put the A’s on top 3-2. After another pitching change, Ryon Healy came in to pinch hit for Stephen Vogt. It was his second night in a row pinch hitting, and got his second hit in a row - a little flare single that we’ve mostly been on the receiving end of this season. The A’s left the inning on top 4-2, the result of good, patient offense with walks and solid contact.
That would be all the runs they needed. Bob Melvin turned to the bullpen in the 7th even though Triggs had only thrown 76 pitches. This made me nervous, but ultimately worked out quite well. Sean Doolittle pitched a clean 7th and got the first out of the 8th before Ryan Dull came in to shut down a couple of righties. Santiago Casilla came in and very, very slowly closed out the 9th with another 1-2-3 inning.
The A’s tie the series 1-1 and snap their 4-game losing streak. They face Texas in the final game of the series tomorrow at 12:35.