Just 24 hours after exploding for 17 hits and 14 runs, the A’s (27-37) found themselves locked in a slugfest with the division leading Rangers (40-25) unable to muster the necessary counterpunching.
The Texas offense, once again powered by the long ball, slugged three home runs, two off Oakland starter Eric Surkamp, who failed to survive the third inning.
Ranger starter Martin Perez (W, 6-4, 3.88 ERA) by no means hogtied the Oakland offense, serving up nine hits and four runs over seven innings pitched. But earned the with his ability to limit damage.
Oakland Manager Bob Melvin was to the point when commenting on his starter’s struggles:
“He left a lot of balls in the middle of the plate, and they got some good swing off of them.”
Surkamp (L, 0-4, 8.07 ERA) never appeared comfortable on the mound. After walking the first batter of the night — on five pitches — he was aided by a pair of solid defensive plays in escaping an early jam with just one run allowed.
A walk in the second — this time with one out — triggered another Rangers rally. The lefty did not allow his defense to bail him out the second time around, however, as Robinson Chirinos sent a fly ball into the stairwell in straight away left field for a three-run jack (2).
The starter said that, along with his inability to control the curveball, the fastball — which bounced between 85 and 88 mph — didn’t seem to have its usual life:
“Tonight was just a weird thing. My arm felt great, I just felt like I had nothing behind the ball. I don’t know what it was… checking the board — the velocity — I was letting some of them go that just weren’t coming out. I don’t know what to attribute that to.”
Catcher Josh Phegley was equally baffled by the 28-year-old’s lack of velocity:
“(His pitches) did look a little different. I’ve caught him in the past, and I know he can throw a little harder than that. I didn’t know if he was trying to make the ball move a little more.”
Surkamp, who was recalled from Triple-A prior to the game, scuffled his way to a seven-hit, seven-run outing spanning just 2-1/3 innings. He has now been pulled before the end of the fifth inning in six of his seven 2016 starts.
Removing the defense from the equation was again the issue in a second Texas three-run rally, as the Rangers scored two of three third-innings runs behind a solo homer by Ryan Rua (6) and a bases-loaded walk. When Oakland pitching allowed its defense to take part, the results were often success.
Yonder Alonso reeled in a high throw from shortstop Marcus Semien and bounded back to the first-base bag for an inning-ending double play. The out at first — overturned from an original safe call — prevented a fourth Rangers run from crossing the plate in the frame, leaving the door slightly opened to the offense.
The A’s were held off the scoreboard until the sixth when a three-run rally got them to within 7-4, jolting the Pride Night crowd with a burst of energy and instilling the home dugout with an air of confidence.
With a Semien strikeout, the sixth came to an abrupt end allowing a golden opportunity to slip through their fingers.
Of the inning, and Perez’s performance, Melvin said:
“We got on him a little bit there, and we were one hit away from getting him out of the game at that point, then he comes back out the next inning. We got within three with some guys on — a chance — but he got the biggest out when he needed to.”
Leading the way for the Green and Gold, Davis (44) and Alonso (15) contributed two RBIs apiece. Butler (18) and Phegley (8) added one each.
With three more tallies in the eighth and ninth innings, the Rangers rendered a two-run final-frame push from the home team nothing more than window dressing.