The A’s and Rangers heated up their recent rivalry for the first time in ’14 on a chilly Monday night in Oakland, as Texas eventually pulled out the victory in a battle of bullpens.
The A’s got to Yu Darvish early with a towering solo home run from Brandon Moss and a two-RBI single from Coco Crisp in the second inning, however they were not able to come up with a knock-out blow, stranding eight base runners in the first four innings in an eventual 4-3 loss.
“The guy is good, he’s not your run-of-the-mill guy,” said Josh Donaldson. “We always feel like we’re going to come through in those situations, tonight was just one of those games it didn’t happen.”
Coming into the game, Rangers ace Darvish had a dismal (1-6) record against the A’s, and Oakland starting pitcher Dan Straily had won a head-to-head battle 1-0 in 2013, however neither pitcher would factor in the decision as the game went to a bullpen duel.
Each team used four pitchers from their respective bullpens after the starters left in a 3-3 tie, with the game ultimately being decided by a pair of former A’s who came back to Oakland to haunt their former team in an act of vengeance with their bats.
Kevin Kouzmanoff (OAK 2010-’11) led off the eighth inning with a double to the right-center gap, and Donnie Murphy (OAK ’07-’08) knocked him in two batters later with a base hit up the middle.
Cespedes nearly put the A’s ahead in the seventh as he wowed the 13,297 in attendance with a soaring shot to center field that would have been long gone most days, but the blustery cold air knocked the ball down as it was caught in front of the wall in left-center field.
“If Cespedes’ ball goes another couple feet its a completely different game, it was a very competitive game, about as close as you can get,” said Melvin.
Coco Crisp left the game in the seventh inning after a diving attempt at a line drive left him rolling in pain and grabbing his ribs.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. That’s the second time he’s dove at a ball and come up nicked up,” said Melvin.
The center fielder may have tweaked his core muscles one batter before the dive as he made a spectacular leaping catch on a line drive. Crisp also slid hard head first into second base for a steal in the first inning.
The A’s have remained competitive down to the last at bat in every game thus far, as all six of their defeats have been by two runs or less.
With the loss, the A’s lead over Texas in the AL west was cut to 1.5 games with two games remaining in the series. Oakland will look to get back in the win column Tuesday night behind Tommy Milone (0-1, 4.09) who will be opposed on the mound by Nick Martinez (0-0, 4.50). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PST.