Well, the A’s lost tonight by a final of 10-8 to the Texas Rangers, but they definitively made it interesting at the end.
The bats took a while to wake up, but after falling behind 10-2 after seven innings, Oakland put up a 6 spot in the eighth, their biggest inning of the year, then got the tying run on base in the ninth. They ultimately came up just short, but it’s always a good sign to see the Green & Gold fight to the very end.
The first few innings saw little to no action against Rangers righty Spencer Howard, with only a Stephen Piscotty leadoff single in the third that didn’t turn into anything. Howard entered today’s start with a 10.97 ERA and managed to hold down the Oakland offense. New lows.
Oakland’s starting pitcher, on the other hand, struggled mightily with his command tonight. A single, a walk, a wild pitch and a balk in the second inning helped lead to two runs off Adrian Martinez tonight, and things wouldn’t get much better for the rookie as the game went on.
Oakland had a little help for their first run, too. A leadoff error put Ramon Laureano on base in the fourth, a Sean Murphy single put him at second, and Seth Brown lined another single to left to bring in Laureano and put the A’s on the board:
Seth Brown drives in his team-leading 38th RBI of the year pic.twitter.com/8gkcBhpL9b— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 12, 2022
With nobody out, it would have been a perfect time to add on but a double play and flyout killed the rally in its tracks with just the one run in, The fact the A’s couldn’t get another run here would come back to haunt them.
Oakland’s struggles with the bats didn’t transfer over to the other dugout. Martinez couldn’t get a shutdown inning for the A’s after they had just scratched across their first run. A walk, error, a pair of singles and a sac fly brought in three more runs off Martinez in the bottom half of the frame and made it 5-2.
Infielder Sheldon Neuse, who had gone hitless in his last four games after snapping his 7-game hitting streak, came up the next inning and launched his third home run of the year, a no-doubter to the upper deck in left field:
With another chance at a shutdown inning and with his offense barely keeping them in the game, Martinez just couldn’t find a groove tonight. His first batter of the fifth launched a solo shot to get that run back, and he only went one more batter before Mark Kotsay had seen enough, turning to the bullpen and ending Martinez’ day without finishing the fifth.
- Adrian Martinez: 4 1⁄3 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 88 pitches
The rookie righty had a promising first career start all the way back in May but has been, let’s say, less inspiring since then. Excluding that first start against the weak Detroit offense, Martinez has allowed 16 total runs in just 14 innings. This is a developmental year and the team can afford to let rookies work on their game at the big league level, but this can’t be good for his confidence right now. It’s not as though there are any obvious replacements at Vegas, though, as most of the starting pitching options down there aren’t exactly busting down the door for a shot at a starting slot.
Lefty Kirby Snead replaced Martinez and gave up a pair of runs, but those really should be charged to Laureano. With a runner on second, the center fielder misplayed a line drive right at him and let it roll all the way to the wall, resulting in a 2-run inside-the-park home run.
Snead couldn’t finish the sixth inning. Instead, Domingo Tapia came on for his fourth appearance this year and struck out the final batter of the frame. The righty had a hard time in the seventh where he allowed two runs on a walk and a pair of doubles. Tapia has now given up multiple runs in three of his four appearances for the A’s this year. 10-2 after seven.
The A’s would have been forgiven if they felt this game was out of reach and phoned it in the rest of the way, and fans, if any were still watching at home, probably changed the channel right around this point. Oakland was only six outs away from getting to head back to the hotel.
That hasn’t been something this team does this year, though.
Having essentially been responsible for giving up a pair of runs, Laureano got the rally started and made up for his error in the eighth with an oppo taco two-run home run down the right field line to cut the lead to six:
this dinger probably only made Ramón feel slightly better after his defensive misplay pic.twitter.com/7FMtUGR8bj— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) July 12, 2022
Then, after a HBP and single, it was Chad Pinder’s turn to get in on the fun. He took the fifth pitch of the at-bat and snuck it just over the wall in left field for a 3-run home run. Suddenly, it was 10-7 and we had a ballgame on our hands:
The A's aren't going down without a fight pic.twitter.com/wBGJGiKmGH— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) July 12, 2022
The bats weren’t done there, either. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty kept the rally going by getting hit on his wrist with a pitch that knocked him out of the game (note: X-rays after the game showed no fracture, considered day-to-day), and Tony Kemp broke his 0-for-21 slump with a double. Amazingly, the tying run was at the plate! Neuse brought in Oakland’s eighth run on an RBI groundout before the Rangers finally got out of the inning, but not before some serious damage was done. When the inning was over, the A’s had their most productive inning all season and it came at a great time.
And for a moment it felt like they could actually complete the comeback. A ninth-inning two-out single and walk put the tying run on base for Pinder, who had just homered, but a strikeout ended the rally, the comeback, and the game as Oakland lost 10-8.
Again, not an actual victory, but considering where they were in the seventh it’s pretty darn close to one. The A’s had no business even sniffing victory in this one and they got the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth. No one can say it wasn’t an interesting game.
But a loss is a loss and the A’s will be hoping for a bounce back tomorrow against these same Rangers. It’ll be righty James Kaprielian facing off against Glenn Otto. Same time, same place!