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Athletics drop second game to Rangers, lose 3-2

A close game with a couple bright spots

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland fell to the Rangers tonight, falling to Texas in a close 3-2 game.

Strong start from Newcomb

Only a couple hours from game time, A’s fans had no idea who would be getting the start for the club today. It turned out to be left-hander Sean Newcomb, who only recently joined the club in a mid-August trade with the San Francisco Giants. Newcomb broke into the big leagues as a starter but had only made 9 starts since 2018 compared to 103 relief appearances. All five of his games for Oakland prior to today were relief outings. It was fair to assume it might not be a long start.

Well the Athletics got more from Newcomb today than they probably expected. Newcomb pitched four shutout innings for Oakland against a desperate Rangers team. Things didn’t start out great as his pitch count got relatively high after two first innings walks but he stranded them both and then went on cruise control. He yielded only one hit all day, a leadoff single in the second inning while racking up 5 K’s. He also hit a batter but induced a double play to immediately wipe the Ranger runner off the base paths. Newcomb ended the day at 61 pitches, a season-high for the lefty.

There are a lot of arms aiming to make an impression on the A’s here in the final weeks of the season. Newcomb has been great for the Athletics since joining the club in his relief appearances and now his first start for them. While he’s not really stretched out for starter innings, did he just earn a second start for the club? Or was this a one-time thing? Something to monitor.

Bats go ice cold

As good as Newcomb was, the offense had trouble breaking through against the Rangers pitching staff. Texas started Nathan Eovaldi but only managed to get 2 13 innings out of their best starter. This was only his second start back since coming off of the IL so Rangers manager Bruce Bochy probably wanted to take their time with Eovaldi.

Which might have actually been detrimental to the A’s today. Oakland managed to collect 3 hits and a couple walks against him and probably would have broken through against him if not for the quick hook. Back-to-back singles in the third chased Eovaldi from the game and gave Oakland an excellent scoring opportunity.

Texas turned to left-hander Martin Perez who walked the first batter his faced to load ‘em up with just one out. It felt like the club was going to break through but a Brent Rooker caught-looking strikeout and a Shea Langeliers popout ended the scoring chance, stranding all three runners.

Oakland managed just one more hit and walk apiece for the next few innings, looking lost against the Texas pitchers. They came into today’s game hot but got cooled down by the Rangers’ bullpen for a bit.

Muller gives it up

Acquired as a central piece of the Sean Murphy trade, Muller had high hopes for this season and even earned the Opening Day start for the Athletics. That was probably the highlight of his year as it’s been tough going for the young left-hander, including demotions to the bullpen and then Triple-A. He’s hoping a strong September can give him a leg up next spring for a rotation job.

Coming on in relief of Newcomb, Muller had an easy enough fifth inning. Things went a bit sideways in his second inning of work though. A walk and three singles stung Muller as Texas rallied to take a 2-run lead off three hits and two walks. A mound visit with the bases loaded seemed to help as he escaped without allowing anymore runs, but this isn’t going to endear Muller to the coaches going into the winter. Muller ultimately only pitched those two innings, throwing 56 pitches in the process.

Gelof comes up big

Down a couple runs late, the A’s needed to get to work against the Texas bullpen. A single and stolen base by Tony Kemp put a runner in scoring position but the next two batters couldn’t bring him in. With two outs in the seventh, rookie sensation Zack Gelof came up to the plate and tied this game up with home run #11(!):

For a moment it looked like that ball was going to go foul but it stayed fair just enough. We had a brand new game, folks.

Rangers pull away, for good

The recently-promoted Lucas Erceg got the ball to start the seventh but clearly didn’t have it today. He was squeezed a bit by the home plate umpire but Erceg walked three batters, failing to finish the inning and leaving them loaded for the next man up. That was lefty Francisco Perez, who’s third pitch of the day was a wild pitch that allowed the Rangers to score the go-ahead run. Perez limited the damage to just that one run and pitched a clean eighth but that run would end up being enough for Texas.

The A’s managed just one more hit, an eighth inning single from Lawrence Butler who was immediately picked off of first base. They did threaten in the 9th inning against Texas closer Aroldis Chapman with back-to-back walks but Jordan Diaz grounded out to shortstop to end this one.

So there goes that small little winking streak the A’s had. On the bright side we saw a great performance from Sean Newcomb, they fought until the final out and Zack Gelof continues his hot start to his career. On the down side the club loses its 98th game of the year. Sigh.

The A’s can still take the series tomorrow with a win. Oakland will be sending out right-handed rookie Luis Medina and he’ll be opposed by fellow righty Jon Gray. Let’s continue playing spoiler and get another win tomorrow!