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Game #117: A’s snap skid, beat Rangers 5-1

The top prospect got his first hit, too!

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

Oakland didn’t let the losing streak hit double digits as they beat the Texas Rangers tonight 5-1 to snap the 9-game losing streak.

The rookie starting pitcher acquired at the trade deadline had another solid outing for his new squad, the lineup racked together 11 hits and 3 walks, and the bullpen nailed down the win with a scoreless day. On top of all that, a certain top prospect got his first major-league hit!

Back in the win column, baby.

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

Offense strong early

Oakland didn’t wait around today to get started with the bats. Rookie outfielder Cal Stevenson roped a double to into the right field corner to lead off the game and Tony Kemp got a bunt single to put two on with no outs in the first inning. Today’s right fielder Seth Brown made sure the A’s cashed in on this scoring opportunity and lined an RBI single the other way into left to give the A’s a quick lead.

The top of the second inning was a special one. Considered the crown jewel of the Matt Olson trade, catcher Shea Langeliers finally got the call to the big leagues and made his Major League debut leading off the inning. And it was a memorable first at-bat for the young catcher as he took the very first pitch he saw and pulled a double into the leftfield corner for the first of many big-league hits:

Fellow rookie Jonah Bride came up a batter later and brought home Langeliers to double the lead for the Green & Gold and make it a 2-0 game:

And another rookie got a hit during the inning as Nick Allen singled on a bunt grounder to third to put two on with one out for a chance to keep adding on. Stevenson and Kemp couldn’t get it done here and the inning ended, but the A’s would get their extra insurance run the next frame when Sean Murphy swung at the first pitch of the third and walloped a massive shot to straight-away center field for Oakland’s third run:

Oakland loaded the bases thanks to a couple walks and a HBP but left the bases loaded, stranding the possible extra insurance. They ultimately went 3-for-13 with RISP tonight.

The A’s had another scoring chance in the sixth and wasted it, but shortstop Elvis Andrus swatted a 2-run shot in the seventh inning to extend the lead to four runs

That was the final scoring for the offense on the day but it was plenty for the pitching staff.

Sears solid again

Another newly acquired rookie, JP Sears started this game off with a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the first including a strikeout. He allowed a single in the second but promptly picked off the Ranger baserunner to end the inning, then stranded another baserunner in the third. Texas was having a hard time getting anything started against the left-hander.

The Rangers got their first scoring chance in the fourth after a two-out single brought up Texas catcher Jonah Heim. The former A’s prospect hit a towering shot that looked like a possible 2-run homerun but hit just off the top of the wall. Kemp, playing left field, played the ball off the wall and a perfect relay nailed the runner from first trying to score at the plate:

As sweet as that relay was, that wouldn’t be the only time the defense came up big for Sears today. Three walks in the fifth, all three of his free passes today, loaded the bases for the Rangers with only one out, and the bullpen got going after the sudden wildness from Sears.

Sears needed a big out if he wanted to qualify for a win today. He got just that when he induced Marcus Semien into a flyout in foul territory to right and a Texas baserunner made a mistake getting into a rundown. The A’s executed it to perfection and the double play ended the inning, getting Sears out of his biggest jam of the day and still in line for a possible W.

That was it for him on the day as Mark Kotsay turned to A.J. Puk for the start of the sixth.

  • JP Sears: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 76 pitches

That’s now two straight solid starts from one of the pieces of the Frankie Montas trade, even if it got a little dicey there at the end. While he wasn’t considered the main piece of the haul, Sears seems to have already settled into a spot in the Oakland rotation. With the playoffs a statistical impossibility, Oakland is going to keep letting him snuggle into the rotation. If he keeps this type of performance up for the rest of the season then the A’s could theoretically have 4/5ths of their 2022 starting rotation already in Irvin-Blackburn-Kaprielian-Sears, with just enough room for Ken Waldichuk.

Back to the game. While Puk racked up three strikeouts in his lone inning of work tonight, he also allowed three straight singles to allow the Rangers to bring in their first run of the game. Righty Domingo Acevedo came on for the seventh and had a perfect 1-2-3 inning, Kirby Snead had a clean eighth, and Dany Jimenez nailed down the win for the club.

The skid is over! Is it a coincidence that Langeliers was here for it? The offense woke up with 11 hits and three walks, including four extra-base hits. Sears looked comfortable and in control for most of the game, and the bullpen had a scoreless day from four arms. Tied series.

It continues tomorrow night, same time, same place. It’ll be another rookie in Adam Oller going for Oakland tomorrow, and he’ll be opposed by another rookie in Cole Ragans. It wouldn’t be surprising to see both teams score a bunch tomorrow.

A few notes:

  • While he did collect his first major-league hit (double), Langeliers also struck out three times in his other plate appearances.
  • Another rookie did the same thing tonight: Stevenson had a double but also struck out three times.
  • With Langeliers up and presumably being prepared for regular catching duties next season, we may be seeing the final games Sean Murphy is playing for the club. If he can keep up the production he’s provided this season, we can expect a pretty big haul for the Gold Glover this winter.
  • Andrus is doing everything he can to force himself into the lineup regularly. He’s approaching his vesting option and it’s going to be a headache to think about that $15MM vesting option of his the rest of the season. He’s currently at 354 AB’s, just 196 away.