Bartolo Colon sure does like pitching against the Texas Rangers.
In his 16-year career, the right-hander has compiled a 20-8 record against Texas, and the latest win was an eight-inning shutout that was much needed as the Oakland Athletics faced off against a dazzling Yu Darvish and came away with a 1-0 victory on a warm Saturday afternoon in Arlington.
Darvish went seven innings and allowed only four hits, but the first one resulted in the only run of the game, and it was the fourth time this season that he’s come out on the losing end of a 1-0 decision.
Texas actually out-hit the A’s, getting seven knocks while hitting into only one double play, but in typical Colon fashion, most of them didn’t result in anything dangerous, and he finished the day with seven strikeouts and only one walk.
Oakland is now five and a half games ahead of the Rangers in the AL West, and while there’s still a couple weeks of baseball left to play before the playoffs begin, the A’s grip on first place in the division just got a little tighter as they earned a series victory with the win. They’ll go for the sweep tomorrow, and if they come out on top they would hand Texas their sixth loss in a row and their 11th in the month of September, and the Rangers suddenly have to be worrying about whether or not they’ll be playing in October at all as their lead in the Wild Card race continues to dwindle.
The A’s struck early today, getting a one-run lead in their first set of at-bats thanks to a two-out double to right by Brandon Moss. That scored Josh Donaldson — who drew a walk earlier in the inning, the only one of the game by Darvish — from first, and Oakland scored first for the 15th time in their last 19 games.
From then on, both pitchers went to work. Texas put men on base in each of the first three innings but couldn’t get a any of them past first until the fourth. Colon got out of that runners-on-second-and-third jam by striking out Mitch Moreland, and that would really be the most threatening scoring moment of the game for the right-hander.
Darvish was up to the task of matching his effort. After the first inning he would only allow three more hits, all of them singles, and he was successful in frustrating Oakland’s hitters as he accumulated 10 strikeouts in seven innings. All of those came with A’s hitters swinging until Josh Reddick struck out looking in the seventh, so it’s safe to say the second-year phenom had some nice movement on his pitches today.
The Rangers didn’t fare much better, as they put two more players in scoring position the rest of the game. Ian Kinsler singled and then stole second in the fifth, only for Elvis Andrus to strikeout in the next at-bat to end the inning. In the eighth, Colon’s final inning on the mound, Alex Rios got all the way to third, but Adrian Beltre popped out to deep right field for the final out of the inning to strand his teammate.
The A’s didn’t have much success against the Texas bullpen, as Tanner Scheppers had a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth and Neal Cotts recovered from a leadoff walk to Jed Lowrie in the top of the ninth to retire the next three batters.
That sent it to the ninth with the A’s trying to hold on to their one-run lead, and Grant Balfour got A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman to pop out before walking Mitch Moreland. David Murphy was brought in to pinch-hit, and Balfour struck him out looking to get his 38th save of the season and secure the shutout for what is arguably the hottest team in the Majors at the moment.
Tomorrow’s game is set for 12:05 PST, with Jarrod Parker going against Martin Perez in what could be another pitching-oriented game.