The Oakland A’s revamped bullpen has been a pleasant surprise this season, but Friday night they faltered, blowing a late lead in an 8-5 loss to the Texas Rangers at the Coliseum.
The A’s offense struck early with five runs in the 3rd inning, and their starting pitcher turned in a quality effort, and after six frames they appeared to be cruising toward a win. But the relievers weren’t able to hold on, as the Rangers plated six runs in the final three innings to charge ahead and snag the victory at the last minute.
Even Oakland’s top arms couldn’t stop the damage. Entering tonight, setup man Zach Jackson and closer Dany Jimenez had combined for 11 saves and 10 holds between them without blowing any leads, but they finally stumbled this evening. Jackson allowed the tying run in the 8th inning for his first blown save, then Jimenez let three more score in the 9th and was tagged with the loss.
The game got off to a promising start, as the A’s lineup put up a crooked number in the 3rd inning.
With two runners on and one out, Ramon Laureano singled up the middle to knock one home. Seth Brown followed with a productive groundout, which drove in the other runner and moved Laureano up to second base. Laureano then stole third and the catcher threw the ball away, allowing him to continue home.
Three runs were across the plate, but they weren’t done. Sean Murphy hit an absolute rocket for a solo homer, 109.8 mph off the bat and 415 feet to straightaway center.
Next up was Chad Pinder, who made it back-to-back with a 406-foot blast.
Pinder makes it back-to-back blasts ‼️ pic.twitter.com/W2Qe4JK4Wk— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 28, 2022
You can click here to watch the whole rally in one video.
Just like that, Oakland led 5-2. Unfortunately, that was all they got. They only reached base one more time the rest of the night, on a walk by Laureano in the 5th, and even that was eliminated in a double play.
Five runs would need to be enough, and for a while it looked like they might be.
Starter Cole Irvin was locked in. Texas got the jump on him in the 1st inning, squeezing two runs out of a trio of singles and a throwing error, but the lefty settled down to retire his next 10 straight batters. His streak broke in the 5th with a pair of singles, but a GIDP quickly squashed that rally, launching another string of six straight batters retired.
- Irvin: 6⅓ ip, 3 runs (2 earned), 4 Ks, 0 BB, 6 hits, 93 pitches
There were only a couple pieces of especially hard contact, helping him avoid any extra-base hits, and he didn’t walk anybody. That’s a quality outing all around, his second in as many tries since returning from the injured list last weekend. He finally departed after a one-out single in the 7th inning.
Thus ends the good news for tonight. That runner inherited by the bullpen in the 7th later came around to score, and he brought friends.
The first reliever up was Justin Grimm. A single, a double, and an RBI groundout were enough to bring home Irvin’s runner plus one of Grimm’s, and the lead was cut to 5-4.
Grimm was bailed out by Jackson, who got the final out of the 7th to strand a runner on third. But the Rangers got to Jackson in the 8th, with a single and then a booming RBI double. The double nearly cleared the fence for a homer, but it was still enough to tie the game, with old friend Marcus Semien sliding across the plate.
The score was still tied in the 9th, and Jimenez tried to keep it that way. He walked the leadoff batter, which wasn’t ideal, but he followed it with a strikeout. Next came a single to put runners on the corners, then another strikeout. A stolen base pushed the runners to second and third with two out, and pinch-hitter Andy Ibañez grounded a single up the middle to drive them both home and give Texas the lead.
The Andy man can give us the lead! pic.twitter.com/mdsEt7U79y— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) May 28, 2022
The comeback was complete, and Semien capped it with one more bloop single to send home Ibañez.
It’s always frustrating to blow a late lead and turn a potentially imminent win into a heartbreaking loss. If there’s one consolation, it’s that this hasn’t happened much so far this year, which makes it easier to stomach the occasional slipup.
If there’s a second consolation, it’s that the late scoring came mostly on singles and a couple doubles, rather than a bunch of dingers or a meltdown of walks. There’s no good way to lose, but this version is less worrisome moving forward. BABIP happens to everybody sometimes.
Bounce back up and go get ‘em tomorrow!