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Game #16: A’s waste Montas’ gem, lose 2-0 to Rangers

Where has the offense gone?

MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland let this one get away late, suffering another frustrating loss to the Texas Rangers 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Staff ace Frankie Montas put on an absolute show, allowing just a single in his first seven innings in his best showing of the young season. A tough eighth ended his day on a sour note, but Montas deserved a win today with the way he dominated the Rangers.

The A’s couldn’t get him any run support, though, collecting just three hits and getting shutout for the second time this year, and second time in four days. After a hot start to the year, the offense is cooling down and it’s starting to cost. Maybe it’s the fact that they haven’t had an off day yet, so fingers crossed this slump won’t last long with Monday’s off day right around the corner.

*** Click here for today’s Game Thread! ***

The story today is all Montas. The right-hander was a buzzsaw today, taking a no-hitter into the 5th inning. He was especially dominant in the early going, getting four swinging strikeouts in the first two frames. Even a base runner reaching thanks to Nick Allen’s first error was immediately wiped out on a groundball double play to end the third.

Allen would make it up to Montas the next inning. After walking his first and only batter of the day with two outs, there was a flare down the left field line that would have broken up the shutout had it fallen. Allen showed off the wheels, covering a lot of ground to make this play:

A 1-out single in the top of the fifth broke up the no-no, and Montas’ next pitch hit the hand of Adolis Garcia to put the ace in his first real jam of the day. Montas needed a double play. Well, he got one, but probably not in the way he was expecting.

After the A’s couldn’t finish off a double play on a groundball to Christian Lopes, first baseman Christian Bethancourt made a heads up play to throw to third base, where a wandering Garcia had rounded the bag too much and got nabbed. Take a look:

What a play by Bethancourt, with that catcher’s arm of his coming into play here. Texas challenged the play but the call was confirmed upon review.

Meanwhile, there wasn’t going on a lot in the bottom half of the innings today. Left-hander Martin Perez was matching Montas pitch for pitch for six innings. A two-out Allen double over the left fielder’s head was the A’s first hit in the bottom of the third but a Tony Kemp strikeout ended that scoring chance. Another two-out rally, a Lopes walk and Cristian Pache single in the fifth, sought to capitalize on the momentum the team had after Bethancourt’s throw, but fizzled after an Allen fly out.

Perez threw one more inning, and with the A’s finally into the Texas bullpen, maybe the game would change. In the bottom of the seventh, with one down, Stephen Piscotty hit a line drive up the middle for what looked like a single, but another heads up play by an Athletic saw Piscotty take advantage of the center fielder taking his time and make it to second base for a double. You could tell the team was desperate to get Frankie just one run. An Elvis Andrus walk put two runners on with only one out but an infield fly from Lopes and a groundout from Pache ended the threat.

With the score still tied and Montas at 86 pitches, Kotsay sent him back out for the eighth inning, probably hoping to give the offense one last chance to score and get him the win. The decision worked earlier in the week with Cole Irvin, but backfired today. Back-to-back one-out singles by the Rangers, including one that just snuck under the glove of Lopes at second, put runners at the corners and ended Montas’ day.

  • Frankie Montas: 7 13 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 96 pitches

As you can see, both of those singles turned into runs and were charged to him. Domingo Acevedo came on and got a groundout for out number two, but the runner at first was running on the pitch and made it to second without a throw. Up came Brad Miller, who lined a ball the other way into left field to bring in at least one run.

Now, initially, it looked as if left fielder Tony Kemp had thrown out the second runner trying to score from second base, but a replay review, initiated by the umpires since Texas had lost its challenge, ruled that Sean Murphy was blocking the plate and not allowing a clear lane. You be the judge:

That meant both runs scored, and on a day where runs were at a premium, it felt like that was it. Mark Kotsay would come out and argue before going back to the dugout, then coming back out as the A’s were getting ready to bat and getting ejected. Love the fight. Congratulations to Kotsay on his first career ejection!

Kirby Snead came on for the ninth and gave up a single, picked him off trying to steal second, and got a strikeout, getting right back into a game after being activated off the COVID list this morning.

The A’s would go down in order in the eighth and ninth innings to end this one and saddle Montas with the loss. Disappointing considering how well he threw the ball today. And apparently he was trying out something new:

With the loss, the A’s fall to .500 again. The series is lost, but the good news is the A’s keep getting healthier by the day, #FilthyFrankie showed off today, Ramon Laureano is starting his rehab assignment soon, and Oakland can avoid a sweep and salvage a game tomorrow afternoon. It’ll be Cole Irvin going for Oakland, the final game of this homestand before Monday’s day off. See you tomorrow!