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Game #76: A’s come back late but can’t hold lead in 5-3 loss

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A winnable game slips away

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s were on their way to a comeback victory in the late innings Wednesday, but the Texas Rangers charged right back.

The A’s waited until the 7th inning to score and used that rally to take the lead, but the bullpen couldn’t hold on and Oakland fell 5-3 to the Rangers.

*** Click here to revisit tonight’s Game Thread! ***

The game began with a pitcher’s duel between James Kaprielian and Mike Foltynewicz, as both starters breezed through four scoreless innings. But Kaprielian blinked and allowed runs in the 5th and 6th, and then Foltynewicz finally succumbed in the 7th and was charged with a pair of runs as well. Even the methods of scoring were similar, as each club got a booming solo homer to center, and each got an RBI hit from their No. 9 batter.

  • Kaprielian: 6 ip, 2 runs, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR, 5 hits, 82 pitches, 96.7 mph EV

That’s a high exit velocity, but none of his outs were robbed according to Statcast, so the hard contact wasn’t often useful except for the few times it did land for fully deserved hits. He limited the walks, which helped keep the bases empty for the one moment he made a mistake for a dinger.

The first run of the game was driven in by a familiar face, on an RBI double by catcher Jonah Heim. He’s a former A’s prospect who played for Oakland last year but was traded to the Rangers over the winter. This was a nice hit against his former club (and his former Triple-A teammate Kaprielian), although he did immediately get himself thrown out on the bases.

In the bottom of the 6th, Texas connected for a homer off Kaprielian, and then in the top of the 7th the A’s lineup finally stirred. Sean Murphy matched the dinger with an even deeper one, at 443 feet, and Oakland was on the board.

The next batter doubled and Foltynewicz was pulled for a reliever. Soon after, rookie outfielder Skye Bolt lined a hit to right to knock the runner home and tie the game. Pitcher’s duel: Draw.

Two more singles completed the comeback, with Matt Chapman notching the go-ahead RBI.

Oakland’s three runs in the 7th more than made up for the two allowed by Kaprielian, and the A’s handed that 3-2 lead to the bullpen. But it took only one pitch for that decision to go wrong, as the first offering from Yusmeiro Petit was launched for a solo homer. His second pitch was drilled for a double to the wall. His third pitch was blooped into left field for a lucky RBI hit. Within three pitches, the save was blown and the Rangers were back in front.

Texas scored one more in the 8th, and Oakland never responded, thanks partly to a pair of diving catches by Rangers outfielders in the top of the 8th.

Welp

That was a bummer. The A’s had a couple more chances to score, but three runs could have been enough tonight.

One possible quibble comes in regard to Kaprielian getting such an early hook, as his pitch count was low and he had the bottom half of the lineup coming up in the 7th, most of whom hadn’t done anything against him. Can’t use Petit every night, and at some point there’s going to need to be a plan that involves winning a game without him.

However, sticking with the starter could have gone wrong too, or there could be bigger-picture ramifications for Kaprielian’s overall workload in his first MLB season. And for what it’s worth, he did allow a few triple-digit exit velocities in the 6th including a homer, and the top of the 7th did last 20 minutes while he sat there waiting, so this may indeed have been the right time to quit while they were ahead even though it didn’t work in the end.

Either way, it’s a loss tonight, and another frustrating one. They’ve got one more game in Arlington tomorrow, and an opportunity to leave town on a happier note.