The Rangers entered Saturday’s game No. 7 in Major League Baseball with 205 home runs. Oakland came in No 21 with 161.
So it should come with minimal surprise that the Athletics fell 5-0 with a pair of two-run, Texas-sized homers proving to be the crushing blows.
The pop was provided by an unlikely source, Elvis Andrus, who tagged No.’s 7 and 8 of the season (fourth and fifth in his career against Oakland) for the afternoon’s only scoring until a cushion run in the ninth. Starter Yu Darvish took it from there, delivering his best-career start against the A’s (66-88) with 7 shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out nine.
The Rangers (92-63) kept their hold on the American League’s top spot with the win, while Oakland fell deeper into the AL West cellar matching the furthest below the .500-mark they have been all season — 22 games.
A’s starter Raul Alcantara (L, 1-2, 5.75 ERA) was able to fool every Ranger hitter not named Andrus, working through baseball’s fifth-highest scoring offense for 6 innings allowing seven hits while striking out six. Unfortunately for him and the A’s, though, the Texas shortstop took three at-bats against the rookie right-hander.
The skipper said:
“I thought he threw the ball well today. It ended up being two pitches for him. … It looks like he’s comfortable out on the mound. On a day when you don’t score any runs, two pitches wind up hurting you.”
Alcantara was put behind the eight-ball immediately, needing to pitch around an error by Marcus Semien (21) landing the speedy Delino DeShields on base one pitch into the game. The hurler stranded DeShields, after a steal of second, striking out fellow rookies Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo to end the inning. But he wasn’t as fortunate in the second.
After a one-out double from Jared Hoying, Andrus sent a 2-2 fastball into straight away center field. A retreating Jake Smolinski made a leap at the wall, but in the end decided not to even extend his glove for a robbing effort as the ball sailed well beyond his reach.
Through translator Alex Apriza, Alcantara said he was surprised by the power display put on by Andrus, who he said is more of a bloop hitter:
“I felt good, my pitches were good. Those two pitches just really affected me. That’s what costed me today.”
It wasn’t that close in the sixth, when the two-time All-Star connected again for his first ever multi-homer game.
Andrus got well out ahead of an 0-1 changeup, but was able to get solid enough contact to keep it fair as the towering fly ball cut through the dry, warm Oakland air like a hot knife through butter. As it soared over the top of the left-field fair pole, third base umpire Jerry Meals made no hesitation in waiving his finger signaling a fair ball, home run.
Melvin and the A’s coaching staff were in agreement, denying to challenge the decision, as Ryan Rua touched home in front of his teammate making it eight straight runs allowed by Alcantara to come on home runs.
The Oakland offense did little in response, stymied by a potent Darvish (W, 6-5, 3.53 ERA).
Of the Texas starter, Melvin said:
“That was as good as we’ve seen Darvish pitch in a while. … Our at-bats got better after he came out of the game, but we just couldn’t push anything across, so we’ll keep working on it.”
Able to muster just four hits, the A’s bats slipped deeper into their current freeze. They offered one last-ditch effort in the eighth, thanks to a pair of singles and a walk, but Stephen Vogt ended a nine-pitch battle with reliever Tanner Scheppers flying out to center fielder DeShields to end the bases-loaded jam and Oakland’s only threat of the afternoon. They have now gone 18 consecutive innings without scoring.
The Rangers’ five through eight hitter accrued eight of the nine Texas hits with Rua, Hoying, Andrus and Robinson Chirinos, who picked up an RBI in the ninth, contributing two hits apiece. The only A’s swinger to reach base twice was Semien, who finished 1-for-3 with a walk.
Melvin said that ending the home season this way is deflating:
“Yes. Especially since we were playing so well when (on the last road trip). We were scoring runs in bunches … we really had a good feeling coming in here. … It’s been the offense that has held us back here at home.”
- With their eighth consecutive home loss, the A’s have matched the worst such streak since April 8 to May 1, 2001. They have also assured, at best, a tie (2015) for the second-worst home record in Oakland franchise history (31-50 in 1979).
- The A’s have currently scored 18 fewer runs than the Kansas City Royals for the lowest run total in the American League. They have finished last in scoring in the AL four times in Oakland history, the last time being 2008.
- After going 1-8 against the A’s in the first four seasons of his career, Darvish has now beaten them twice in 2016 (2-1). His nine losses are the most the 30 year-old has suffered against any one team (Houston Astros 4-4).
- The Ranger bullpen has now combined for 18-1/3 innings without allowing an earned run — surrendered an unearned run on Sept. 18.
- Khris Davis continues his search for season RBI No. 100. He has now gone without since driving in three on Sept. 18 at Texas, and is looking to become the first Athletic to reach the century mark since Frank Thomas knocked in 114 in 2006. He has already become the first “A” to pile 40 home runs since Jason Giambi poked 43 in 2000.
Sunday afternoon’s 2016 home finale will feature starters Jharel Cotton (1-0, 1.50 ERA), who has allowed a single earned run in each of his three major league starts, and Colby Lewis (6-3, 3.40 ERA), who allowed just two hits and one run in his only previous start at Oakland this season.