Up 9-2 in the eighth inning, the Oakland Athletics thought they had this one wrapped up. Instead, it turned into a nail-biter thanks to a ferocious rally by the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers would not go quietly into the night, as they rallied for six runs in the eighth inning against the A’s bullpen. Brett Anderson, who came into the game to pitch the eighth, walked the first two batters he faced and was taken out of the game with back spasms. After Jesse Chavez allowed two hits and a run to score, Ryan Cook entered and didn’t do much better. Cook allowed three straight batters to reach base, and gave up a two-run single to Alex Rios that cut the A’s lead to 9-8. Cook was then relieved by Sean Doolittle.
However, the inning would end on a sour note for the Rangers. On a single down the left field line by Adrian Beltre, Rios tried to go from first to third, but was called out on a close play by third base umpire Andy Fletcher. Rios was ejected for arguing on what was a pivotal play, one that could come back to bite the Rangers in the pennant race.
Doolittle came in to close things out in the ninth, and despite allowing a two-out double, he pstruck out Jurickson Profar looking to end the game. The game lasted over four hours when it should have been over much quicker.
Fortunately, the A’s poured on the offense early, pounding out 14 hits against the Rangers pitching staff, which let their bullpen off the hook.
Yoenis Cespedes got things rolling in the first inning, drilling a three-run homer to center. But the party was just getting started for the A’s.
Josh Donaldson homered to lead off the third inning on a hanging breaking ball, and after back-to-back singles to start the fourth, Rangers starter Derek Holland was taken out of the game. Nick Tepesch, his replacement, promptly allowed a two-run double to Donaldson that put the A’s up 6-2.
The A’s continued to pile on runs, sending seven men to the plate in the fifth inning and adding two more runs. Brandon Moss launched his 27th home run of the year in the sixth, and by that point, every member of the A’s lineup had a hit.
A’s starter Dan Straily got the victory, pitching 5.2 innings and allowing two runs on two hits, walking four and striking out four. He has a minuscule 1.90 ERA over his past four starts, with hitters batting .181 against him. Not coincidentally, recently-acquired Kurt Suzuki has caught all four of those starts (h/t Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle).
Game 2 of the series will be tomorrow afternoon Bartolo Colon and Yu Darvish toeing the rubber for their respective clubs.