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Game #116: Defensive errors snap win streak

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Also other kinds of errors too, but mostly the defense

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

Does it count toward your win streak if you beat yourself?

The Oakland A’s made three defensive errors plus a key mistake on the basepaths in an 8-6 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday, with the difference in that final margin being the two unearned runs allowed by Oakland. The defeat snaps a seven-game win streak.

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

The A’s entered the evening so hot that they were setting franchise records on nearly a daily basis. But you can’t win ‘em all, and they offered a reminder of that in Arlington tonight.

The 1st inning set the tone. The Rangers’ leadoff batter singled, then the next batter singled and center fielder Starling Marte booted the ball to allow the lead runner to move to third. Next came a grounder up the middle directly at second baseman Jed Lowrie, but he missed it entirely with his glove and it bounced off him into the outfield — it could have been a double play, but instead everybody was safe.

Five pitches into the game, Oakland had committed two errors and let through an unnecessary run. Another single and a sac fly plated two more. This could reasonably have been a one-run inning for starting pitcher Cole Irvin, but instead it was 3-0 Rangers.

Nevertheless, the A’s battled back to take a 4-3 lead in the 6th inning. But leading off the bottom of the frame, shortstop Elvis Andrus let a grounder through his legs for another error. The next batter singled, then Irvin was pulled, and the first pitch from reliever Sergio Romo was a flat slider up in the zone that got hammered for a three-run homer. The dinger was hit by Yohel Pozo, a rookie making his MLB debut, who isn’t on the Rangers Top 30 prospect list at MLB Pipeline, and also his blast was close enough down the line that it clanged off the foul pole.

Oakland got the score back within 6-5 in the 7th inning, but in the bottom of that frame, reliever Yusmeiro Petit issued a leadoff walk and then a two-run dinger dagger.

Still, the A’s offense kept pushing. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the 8th inning to make it 8-6, his second RBI double of the game, but on the backend of the play he took too big of a turn around second base and was thrown out trying to scamper back. D’oh.

The whole thing was a bummer from start to finish. Oakland did a ton of things well in this game, but their mountain of mistakes climbed just slightly higher to overshadow the good parts.

What’s more, many of those miscues came from the hottest players on the team. Lowrie drove in the game-winning run twice this week, but tonight his highlight was the costly error, and when he came up to bat in the 5th inning with the bases loaded and two outs he flew out to the warning track. Romo has been unhittable lately, but he showed why I don’t like using slider pitchers to come in and escape a big jam mid-inning, because one hanger can be devastating. Petit has the lowest walk rate in the bullpen, but tonight he issued one right in front of a homer. Brown only messed up after succeeding multiple times. Marte’s error didn’t end up mattering, and he also hit an RBI single to raise his Oakland batting average to infinity-plus-one, but still.

In other words, don’t stress about this one. The A’s lost a brutally ugly game, but not in any way we should worry about. We already knew Lowrie and Andrus are shaky defensively up the middle at their combined age of around 70, and you can always mitigate that by DHing Lowrie more often down the stretch. That was the first run allowed by Romo since late-June, and the first inherited runners he’s let score since early-July. And so on.

Meanwhile, in addition to getting the clutch difference-making homer from a non-prospect MLB debut, at one point Texas’ defense turned a double play on the throw pictured below. Sometimes it’s just not your night and you respectfully tip your cap to the other team.

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers
Andy Ibañez from the seat of his pants to complete the double play
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

And what about the good parts? In the 5th inning, Brown hit what would have been a homer in many parks, but it hit the top of the wall for a 396-foot RBI double. Then with two outs Marte hustled for an infield single to plate Brown, cutting a 3-0 deficit down to 3-2. That inning ended with Lowrie’s 99.5 mph, 380-foot, opposite-field flyout stranding the bases loaded.

In the 6th they finished off that comeback, temporarily at least. Mitch Moreland hit a 378-foot triple that would have been a homer if it had gone just a foot to the left, but at that exact spot the Globe Life Field wall juts deeper so the ball stayed in the park. No matter, as Matt Chapman singled him in to briefly give Oakland the lead.

In the last three games Moreland has hit two homers and two more deep drives that should reasonably have been homers but landed precisely in uniquely deep alcoves of opposing stadiums (he also hit a 407-foot double in Cleveland this week, which was deeper than both his dingers in that same park).

When the Rangers went yard off Romo to retake the lead in the bottom of the 6th, Matt Olson responded with a rocket of his own in the top of the 7th. But alas, there was nobody on base.

And then in the 8th, who knows what else they might have scratched together if Brown (the second-fastest runner on the team) hadn’t ended the inning with his TOOTBLAN.

That’s enough that they reasonably could have won tonight. But they didn’t, because they gave the opponent way too much help, and that’ll happen sometimes over the span of six months even when you’re hot. Can’t win ‘em all.

Shake it off

Do you know what you call it when you snap a seven-game win streak? Winning seven out of eight.

Go get ‘em tomorrow.