The Oakland Athletics took on the visiting Texas Rangers in game two of the four-game series at home tonight. After dropping game one yesterday at the Oakland Coliseum, A’s lefthander Ken Waldichuk (1-2, 7.25 ERA) took the mound against Rangers lefty Martín Pérez (4-1. 3.86 ERA). Both hurlers made their eighth start of the season.
Esteury Ruiz wasted no time getting the A’s out to a quick lead. He sent the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning deep over the left center field wall.
The Rangers tied the score in the top of the second when Josh Jung reached on a throwing error by third baseman Kevin Smith. In what can only be described as a routine play, Smith threw a high but seemingly catchable ball to Jesus Aguilar who could not reel it in. Once it started rolling around in the acreage that is the Coliseum foul territory, Jung was able to easily cruise into third. Ezekiel Duran then doubled to drive in Jung.
The A’s jumped back into the lead in the bottom of the second when Shea Langeliers led off with a single to center field. And Kevin Smith followed with a walk. Nick Allen reached safely on a bunt back to Perez loading the bases. Ruiz got his second RBI of the night with a fielder’s choice that scored Langeliers from third easily.
The Rangers got going in the top of the third with two consecutive walks to Bubba Thompson and Marcus Semien. Robbie Grossman doubled down the left field line scoring Thompson. But a Rooker to Smith to Perez throw nailed Semien at home. At the end of three the score was knotted at 2.
The Rangers jumped out to a lead in the fourth inning when Jonah Heim opened the inning with a single to center field. Ezequiel Duran doubled to drive Heim to third. Leody Taveras drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center, making the score 3-2.
Kevin Smith tied it up again when he led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a shot to left center field for a home run.
With one out in the top of the fifth Nathaniel Lowe doubled. Jung singled, moving Lowe to third. Heim singled to third driving in Lowe, putting the Rangers back in front. But that didn’t last, as with one out in the bottom of the inning Carlos Perez homered to left, tying the score once again; this time at 4 at the end of six.
Because consistency is important in life, the Rangers once again scored on a solo homer by Robbie Grossman to right field with two outs in the sixth. That was five innings in a row that the Rangers scored a lone run.
The A’s did not go quietly in their half of the sixth inning. Nick Allen singled to centerfield, and Esteury Ruiz walked. Both runners advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch well out of the reach of Rangers’ backstop Heim. Laureano struck out leaving it up to Brent Rooker. But he grounded out softly to Duran at shortstop to end the threat.
Both teams went quietly in the seventh, the first inning when neither team scored.
Sam Huff led off the eighth with a single. Leody Taveras singled and then both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Austin Pruitt. Sam Moll relieved Pruitt and issued an intentional walk to Marcus Semien. He struck Grossman out on three pitches and induced a ground out to Nathaniel Lowe to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jace Peterson walked with one out. Nick Allen hustled his way to an infield single, moving Peterson to second. Jace Peterson showed off his speed scoring on a Ruiz single to shallow centerfield. That was Ruiz’s third RBI of the night (Spoiler alert, he wasn’t finished). JJ Bleday was not able to advance the runners on a pop out to shallow left field. Brent Rooker showed great patience and an even better eye in working a walk to load the bases. Pinch hitter Ryan Noda batted for Aguilar but grounded out to end the inning. But the A’s had already tied it up at 5 going to the ninth inning.
Carlos Perez led the inning off with a walk. Pinch hitter Tony Kemp placed a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first base line to move Perez to second. Shea Langeliers was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second for Jace Peterson. Peterson K’d, leaving it up to Nick Allen who flied out ending a promising inning.
Moving to the top of the tenth inning, the Rangers placed Ezekiel Duran on second to start the inning. Josh Smith walked and Leody Taveras sacrificed both runners up 90 feet. Adolis Garcia pinch hit for Bubba Thompson. Garcia hit three home runs off A’s pitching April 22 of this year, but only managed a single to left field scoring Duran. Semien singled, scoring Smith to give the Rangers a two-run lead. Shintaro Fujinami replaced Zach Jackson and struck out Grossman looking. Then after starting Lowe off with an 0-2 count, he threw 4 straight balls to load the bases for Josh Jung. Jung lined out softly to Bleday in right field.
Nick Allen was the runner placed on second to start the inning for the A’s. He advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an Esteury Ruiz base hit, his fourth and this time final RBI. JJ Bleday moved Ruiz to third with a single to right field. Then Brent Rooker closed the books on this victory with a three- run bomb to straight-away centerfield. It was Rooker’s eleventh home run of the season, tying him with Boston’s Rafael Devers for the AL lead.
Shintaro Fujinami got his first victory in kelly green and gold! These two teams go at it again tomorrow in Oakland. The first pitch is 1:07 P.M. PDT.