Bullpen Stumbles As A’s Fall To Rangers 6-5 In Extra Innings


May 14, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris (36) makes the out against Texas Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman (27) sliding home during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics were poised to take the second of three games against the Texas Rangers Tuesday night, but Ron Washington’s club rallied to tie the game in the eighth and went on to win by a final score of 6-5 behind two solo home runs in extra innings.

Texas jumped out in front in the fourth with a single by Elvis Andrus getting things started, followed by a double from Adrian Beltre on a blooper that got past a sliding Michael Taylor in right field, putting baserunners on second and third with one out.  Andrus then scored on a sacrifice fly from Nelson Cruz, and Mitch Moreland hit a home run in the next at-bat to put the Rangers up 3-0.

Oakland responded in the bottom of the fifth. Seth Smith and Nate Freiman hit consecutive singles to lead off the inning, and Michael Taylor drew a walk to load the bases. Adam Rosales hit into a double play that scored Smith from third, and Freiman came home on a double down to left field by Jed Lowrie to make it 3-2.

It looked like Texas would add at least one run in the sixth when Lance Berkman hit a triple that took an awkward bounce and got  away from Yoenis Cespedes in center field with one out, but in the next at-bat Rosales made a great play to field a ground ball from Beltre and throw home to get Berkman with the fielder’s choice out.

Josh Donaldson led off the bottom half of the inning with his second double of the game, and after advancing to third on a groundout by Derek Norris, he’d score on a sacrifice fly from Luke Montz to tie the game. Smith then singled to keep the rally alive, prompting Washington to bring in Robbie Ross out of the bullpen to replace Holland, and Freiman doubled to left on the first pitch he saw, scoring Smith to give the A’s a 4-3 lead.

Sean Doolittle came in for Bartolo Colon in the seventh and avoided trouble after Lowrie dropped a pop fly to allow Geovany Soto to reach base. Soto advanced to third on a two-out single by Craig Gentry, but Doolittle struck out Ian Kinsler to end the inning.

Colon finished the day with three runs on four hits, with one walk and no strikeouts.

In the bottom of the seventh, Donaldson got his fourth hit of the night, matching his career-high when a grounder got through the left side of the infield. He’d remain on base to end the inning when Norris struck out looking in the next at-bat. Donaldson finished the night 4-for-5 at the plate with two doubles and a run.

The A’s were in good shape heading into the eighth, and Melvin brought in the team’s resident All-Star reliever Ryan Cook to serve as the setup man, but the right-hander gave up singles to Andrus and Beltre, with Beltre’s hit advancing the speedy Andrus to third. Cruz then popped one up to Cespedes to record the sacrifice fly to tie the game, and Melvin brought in Jerry Blevins to close out the inning.

Oakland had a small window of opportunity in the bottom of the eighth when Brandon Moss — who had entered the game as a pinch runner for Freiman in the sixth — was grazed on the elbow by Tanner Scheppers to get on base with two outs. Daric Barton come in as a pinch runner on the exact same play as Moss in the sixth, and he hit a grounder in the next at-bat to end the inning, although it was a call that could have gone either way at first base as Barton made it a very close call for umpire D.J. Reyburn.

Melvin certainly thought he was safe, and he argued his point a little too passionately for Reyburn’s liking, and he ended up drawing his third ejection of the season as the two teams geared up for the ninth.

Texas put two men on with one out against Grant Balfour in the top of the ninth, but he struck out the final two batters to end the threat, and the game would head to extra innings after Scheppers retired the side in the bottom half of the inning.

The Rangers wasted no time putting runs on the board, and Chris Resop gave up a homer to Beltre on a 3-0 count for the go-ahead run, with Moreland making it 6-4 on his second homer of the night (his third of the series) to give Texas an insurance run they would end up needing after the A’s nearly came back in the bottom of the 10th.

Norris and Moss would draw walks to put two men on with one out for Smith, who was able to make contact on a fastball away to hit a blooper to left field for a double which scored Norris to make it 6-5. Brandon Moss was intentionally walked with an open base for reliever Joe Nathan to work with, and Barton battled in a seven pitch at-bat but came out on the losing end as he struck out on a slider, and Eric Sogard grounded out to second to end the game.

It’s a rare occurrence that the Oakland bullpen costs the team a game, but a rough inning by Cook and a couple miscues from Resop was all that Texas needed to steal a win late in the game Tuesday night.

Dan Straily will take the mound against right-hander Alexi Ogando tomorrow in the deciding game of the series, and it should be good weather for baseball with the forecast calling for temperatures in the mid-60’s for the 12:35 start, so head over on BART and get a $2 ticket to show your support for the Green and Gold if you don’t have plans.