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Game #61: Rangers Take Opener, Beat A’s 7-4

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

***Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread***

The positive takeaway from this evening’s game was the return of the Olson & Davis show, a lethal combination we saw a lot towards the end of last season, but very little of so far in 2018. In spite of a decent offensive effort, it was not the A’s night. Our sluggers were outslugged by the Rangers, who hit five home runs en route to a 7-4 victory.

It all started so well. The offense put up two runs before the Rangers even touched a bat, courtesy of a Matt Olson single and a Khris Davis double. Davis would also add a home run in the fifth and is hopefully back on track after his DL stint.

Tonight was also a chance for Sean Manaea to get back on the rails after a stretch of tough starts, and despite walking the first two hitters in the bottom of the first, he retired the next three in order. Although Manaea worked out of the jam, the first inning foreshadowed the rest of the Thrown’ Samoan’s night.

Our southpaw ace allowed two baserunners in four of the six innings he started. He wasn’t sharp, walking four, but limited the damage and allowed just two earned runs over 5.1 innings. While Manaea did a decent job managing contact - he conceded just four hits - two of those hits were of the home run variety. In one sense, given how many Rangers reached base against Manaea, we ought to consider ourselves fortunate both homers were solo shots. Manaea certainly gave us a chance to win. And Ryan Dull did his job after Sean was yanked in the sixth. At the two-thirds mark, the A’s still led 3-2.

That 3-2 lead soon became 4-2 in the seventh, courtesy of another Matt Olson RBI single. The tide turned quickly, however. With nobody out and the bases loaded, Mark Canha bounced into a 5-2-3 double play. While another run or two wouldn’t have mattered if subsequent events played out in the same way, it seems uncontroversial to say the game was more likely to end in victory had we left the seventh with a three or four-run lead.

Yusmeiro Petit pitched the seventh, but pitched poorly and allowed the two-run blast that tied the game for the Rangers. Well, perhaps that’s unfair. Shin-Soo Choo’s homer wasn’t actually that bad of a pitch.

In fact, at least according to the Rangers’ TV feed in the above video, it was about a ball and a half or even two ball widths outside the strike zone. Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and credit the hitter; Choo did an excellent job of staying on a low-and-away off-speed pitch and driving it to the opposite field.

By the eighth, it had all fallen apart. Our steady rookie, Lou Trivino, was anything but. Trivino came in for Petit, but provided little relief, facing four batters and allowing two homers and a walk. Trivino’s ERA was outpacing his FIP by a pretty considerable margin entering tonight’s game; one had the sense a correction was overdue. Still, you’d have liked that correction to have come in a less-winnable game.

Poor Stephen Piscotty still can’t catch a break. This was hit on the screws and looked to be a sure double.

Piscotty did go 1-3 tonight, but was pinch-hit for in the seventh. In a sense, that’s kind of how tonight was. The A’s did a lot of things well and even managed to out-hit the Rangers. But the Rangers out-slugged and out-bullpened us, and hey, that’s how the modern game is won, right?

Another intriguing pitching match-up tomorrow to close out this quick two game set - Daniel Mengden vs. Bartolo Colon. In the meantime, forget about this one. Go watch a Kyler Murray YouTube video or something.