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Minor setback doesn’t diminish dominant A’s homestand

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Texas Rangers left fielder Joey Gallo (13) rounds the bases as Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (37) looks on after a home run as the Texas Rangers face the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, August 22, 2018.

Despite their inability to seal a sweep Wednesday, the Athletics finished a productive nine-game homestand 6-3.

Unable to claim game three over Texas, the A’s had already clinched three consecutive series victories with back-to-back shutouts of the Rangers on Monday and Tuesday.

Edwin Jackson got hit early and often. In fact, his very first pitch became a home run (21) by left fielder Shin-Soo Choo, his fourth leadoff homer of the season. Jackson (L, 4-3, 2.97 ERA) gave up twice as many earned runs (4) as he had in his previous four starts combined (2).

With a 4-2 win, the Rangers (57-72) got their first victory over the A’s (76-51) in seven chances since the All-Star break.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

The A’s starter knew exactly why he struggled:

“I wasn’t able to execute pitches with two strikes. I was under the ball a lot, which causes the ball to be flat, to be up in the zone. It’s hard enough to put hitters out when you make pitches, but if you give them pitches to hit, any team can put good wood on the ball.”

Jackson’s only other start against Texas this season also ended with him being knocked out in the fifth. He has allowed nine earned runs on 14 hits in 8-2/3 innings (9.35 ERA) versus the Rangers this season and 12 earned runs in 55-1/3 innings (1.95 ERA) against all other opposition.

Mike Minor (W, 10-6, 4.40 ERA), on the other hand, tossed six shutout innings for Texas, giving up just one hit, a Chad Pinder single, and striking out four.

Jonathan Lucroy chalked the A’s struggles up to the standard goings on of baseball:

“Their guy threw pretty well today, and our guy wasn’t as sharp as he has been. That’s why the game of baseball is so great: it doesn’t matter who you are or what your record is, if your guy on the mound is having a good day it’s gonna be tough.”

The A’s bullpen kept hope of a sweep alive, combining for two hits and eight strikeouts over 4-2/3 innings of work.

Oakland’s offense chipped away late with RBI doubles from Stephen Piscotty and Jed Lowrie in the seventh and eighth, respectively.

Stranded runners were a problem for the A’s, who left six on the paths — which isn’t the highest number of the season — but two of the six were left at third when the final out was recorded. The second of those left 90 feet from scoring in a game Oakland lost by two was Matt Chapman, who never scored after getting to third with no outs in the ninth. In the end, a bases loaded opportunity fell through when Nick Martini struck out to end the game.

The late rally is just another example of what Jackson said the rest of Major League Baseball has become aware of:

“You ask around the league, the word is out — we’re not gonna give in. We’re gonna grind it out until the last out. When you have that attitude it shows on the field, and the record shows as well.”

Despite the loss, manager Bob Melvin is aware of how well-drawn the bigger picture is for his squad:

“The way we’re playing right now, you wanna try to finish off that third one. But if you look at the homestand and before you play it say you’re gonna win every series, you gotta take it. We gotta feel good about that.”

Jonathan Lucroy is on the same page as his skipper:

“If we win two out of three the rest of the year, we’re winning the World Series. That’s the math. I try to keep that perspective with these guys here.”

On Deck

Oakland begins a seven-game road trip Thursday, with four in Minnesota and three in Houston. They lead the league in road home runs (104) and road runs per game (5.55).

Notes

Choo’s leadoff home run ended a 19-inning scoreless streak for Oakland’s pitching staff. … Stephen Piscotty’s double in the seventh tied his career high of 35, which also tops on the team. … The A’s still hold the best record in the majors since June 16 (42-15).

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