The Oakland A’s smelled the pungent aroma of defeat on Sunday, and the source of it was the bat of Rougned Odor.
The Texas Rangers second baseman hit a three-run homer to break a tie in the 6th inning, the second time he’s done exactly that in this series and the third time he’s gone deep. Texas never relinquished that lead, and the A’s dropped the season series finale 6-3.
While Odor is known for his power, he’s not the likeliest of heroes right now. Before this series he only had three homers in 24 games, a number he matched in three dates this weekend, and entering Sunday he was batting .150 with a .541 OPS and his usually atrocious walk and strikeout rates. But the ever-present slugging is what shined through against Oakland, leading the way in a pair of victories and a series split.
The lefty homered in Monday’s opener after the A’s already had a big lead, but then in the first half of Tuesday’s doubleheader he started the day’s scoring in the 1st inning with a three-run dinger in an eventual 5-2 win. He repeated that magic on Thursday in the 6th, turning a tie into a permanent lead.
Before Odor’s blast, A’s starter Frankie Montas had been cruising. The recently struggling ace sliced through five innings, never experiencing much trouble outside of a solo homer by Derek Dietrich. But the 6th inning (and third time through the lineup) brought a rally with a pair of one-out hits, and then Odor smelled an RBI opportunity and didn’t whiff on it.
Montas: 5⅓ ip, 4 runs, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HR, 7 hits, 81 pitches (59 strikes)
The bullpen gave Texas some insurance when Lou Trivino allowed a two-run homer to Jeff Mathis, breaking a streak of 10 scoreless outings by the right-hander, but it didn’t end up mattering in the final tally. And anyway, when literally Jeff Mathis is hitting a homer against you, it’s usually a sign that this just isn’t your day. He’s in the majors for his catching skill, but he’s the single worst hitter in either league.
On the other side of the ball, Rangers ace Lance Lynn threw a quality start against Oakland for the third time this summer. This one lasted seven innings, with one run and 10 strikeouts. The A’s scored their run right away in the 1st inning, on a leadoff walk by Tommy La Stella, a double by Marcus Semien, and an RBI groundout by Stephen Piscotty, but then the next 16 batters were retired in order and they didn’t reach base again until a walk by Semien with two outs in the 6th.
The green and gold scratched out a couple more against Texas’ bullpen, but it wasn’t enough to mount a full comeback. La Stella homered in the 8th, and Mark Canha tripled in the 9th and came home on an infield hit by Jonah Heim, but that was all Oakland could muster.
Still, the A’s came out on top in the 2020 season series against the Rangers, winning seven out of 10 games. Considering the circumstances — four games in three days, without their best player who was just lost for the year, at a time when all they need to do is tread water for two weeks to hold their substantial AL West division lead — a split this weekend will work just fine.
Now the schedule gets even more interesting. The A’s fly to Seattle for a Monday doubleheader against the Mariners, their second twin-bill in three days, on what was supposed to be an off-day before the coronavirus hiatus interrupted things. Then they go to Colorado for two against the Rockies on Tue/Wed, then get a day off Thursday to travel home for three against the Giants (who don’t have coronavirus after all; it was a false positive).
For now, the next game is Monday at 2:10 p.m., with Jesús Luzardo against Marco Gonzales. After that, Mike Minor will start the nightcap for Oakland.